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Vaccination condition results in temporary service disruption at West Kootenay Transit

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
December 10th, 2021

A requirement to be fully vaccinated has impacted transit delivery in the region.

Alterations in the circumstances of employment — requiring full vaccinations for employees — at West Kootenay Transit has created a labour shortage that has affected service levels in the Nakusp Paratransit Zone (Nakusp – Edgewood) and may also influence the Kootenay Transit Zone, which includes Playmor, Balfour, Nelson and Salmo.

“The emerging labour shortages are the result of direction given by WorkSafe BC and the Provincial Health Officer,” noted RDCK research analyst Tom Dool in his report to the board of directors.

BC Transit announced Oct. 6 — in alignment with the provincial health officer and WorkSafe BC direction — that all employees and people within contracted companies had to be fully vaccinated (and show proof) by Nov. 29.

The requirement coincided with a West Kootenay Transit operating company move from Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services to NextGen Transit.

In Dool’s report, it was revealed that the 52 Nakusp-Playmor run had been suspended, since it was down one operator.

“As of Nov. 29, within the Kootenay Zone, the driver shortage could impact 110 hours of service and including HandyDART services. Temporary measures have been made to ensure the provision of services up to Dec. 4,” Dool noted in his report.

 Taking action

Dool noted that in “response to the labour shortage BCT Transit and NextGEN have implemented a number of measures to maintain service wherever possible and recruit new drivers to ensure a quick return to normal service levels.”

Those measures include:

  • temporarily moving drivers into these areas from other parts of the system;
  • additional recruitment campaigns online and in person;
  • working within their collective agreements to support extended driver hours;
  • fast tracking training by bringing recruits to Trail for in-house training and orientation; and
  • bringing BC Transit training resources in from the lower mainland.

The measures are expected to facilitate a return to normal services by mid-January.

Source: RDCK staff report

Dool said the regional district was working with BC Transit and NextGen to develop a “prioritization of services in the event that there are further service disruptions in the Kootenay Zone after Dec. 4.”

Services priorities include the medical transport and HandyDart.

More to come.

Categories: General


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