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B.C Transit Presents Nelson Bus Improvement Findings to Council

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
August 7th, 2012

B.C. Transit has come out with recommendations on how to improve bus routes in Nelson.

The agency presented a report to City Council on July 16 following its public consultations with residents in June.  

One of the main features of the recommendations would mean separate bus routes for each of Fairview, Uphill, and Rosemont.

Transit advocate was “very impressed”

“I was very impressed with the presentation,” says Barry Nelson of the Nelson Transit Community Group, an advocacy organization that had a lot of input into the recommendations. “I thought they did an excellent job and I think they have done their homework on it. I think they did take input from the people into consideration.”

…but with reservations

“They got it about 80% right,” he says.

One of his concerns is the recommendation that if any changes are to be made in Nelson, such as re-instituting Sunday service sometime in the future, the matter could not be decided by Nelson Council but must go before the newly-formed West Kootenay Transit Committee, which has representatives from the City and from the Regional Districts of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) and Central Kootenay (RDCK).

“It’s unfortunate that when it does not affect anyone else, the city cannot make those decisions itself,” said Nelson.

One-way to and from Fairview

“The second thing,” he continued, “ is that for Fairview, B.C. Transit still seems to think that a one-way route is the best, so in other words they go out to Fairview one way, and come back the same way.” Currently the bus goes out Anderson Street to Fairview and comes back along Douglas Street. B.C. Transit is recommending cutting the service to the Douglas and Morgan area and having the bus return to the mall from Fairview along Anderson.

No “lollipop”

And the third thing,” says Nelson, “is not being able to accommodate a loop into the Real Canadian Wholesale store. They said they call those “lollipops” and when you are simply going in to a stop and coming back out through exactly the same way, with only that stop, that tends to not be satisfactory for other riders because they  think it’s a waste of time.”

That store has become a more important destination for low-income shoppers since the closure of Extra Foods in March.

B.C. Transit is the provincial government body that funds 47% of the cost of transit in B.C. It coordinates transit systems and provides transit expertise to local governments. 

A picture of the options

The B.C. Transit report contains a table, reproduced below, that summarizes the options the agency looked at, finally recommending Option 4. The four options do not include adding Sunday service in Nelson because that would require an increase in funding.

Option 4 is not just about routes in Nelson but also includes developing a common fare structure and coordinated schedules across the region, as well as additional commuter trips to the Slocan Valley.

The report also contains detailed notes on the specific feedback given by Nelson residents at the open houses, and online, in June.

The report must now be considered for approval by the new West Kootenay Regional Transit Committee, which will meet for the first time in September on a date to be announced. The Committee’s meetings are open to the public. Its members are:

Mayor Karen Hamling (Nakusp)

Mayor Lawrence Chernoff (Castlegar)

Area E representative Ramona Faust (RDCK)

Councillor Kathy Wallace (Rossland)

Councillor Don Duclos (Montrose)

Councillor Donna Macdonald (Nelson)

Mayor Larry Gray (Fruitvale)

B.C. Transit’s proposed options– click to enlarge:

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