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Action Group advocates for province-wide transit service

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
March 29th, 2023

A Nelson activist group is calling for a province-wide travel coach system in order to dovetail into the Province’s Clean Transportation Action Plan.

The Nelson and Area Action Group for Better Public Transportation claims a public inter-city bus system is one of the more important aspects in lowering emissions in the province.

“A B.C.-wide travel coach system would reduce emissions and provide new freedom to so many people in the province who don’t drive a private vehicle, or simply can’t afford to travel now, ” said action group member Saria Andrew in a press release.

The Province is currently soliciting public input into its Clean Transportation Action Plan, which includes a target of reducing trips in private cars and trucks by 25 per cent by 2030.

In February the action group appeared before city council in a public meeting and said the city needed to step up and advocate for better transit not only in Nelson but for the creation of a province-wide electric transit network.

Keith Wiley said municipal governments like Nelson needed to tackle the problem and begin lobbying for improvement and funding from the province.

“We think better public transit and better public transportation is the answer … so we want to work with you, support you to … advocate strongly for better public transportation,” he said.

The objective of the group was to encourage local governments to “place a high priority on reducing transportation climate emissions by dramatically increasing public transit services,” the group’s website explained (https://nelsonpublictransitaction.ca/).

“Boosting electrified public transit not only reduces emissions, it also can impact affordability for many and create much more equitable access to travel.”

Wiley said there were a lot of people in B.C., particularly in rural B.C., who could not get around very well and needed better transit, as well as inter-provincial transit.

“There are a large number of people, whether for physical or general reasons, or financial, can’t drive,” he said.

The group had five points it wished to target, said Wiley, starting with the electrification of all buses.

“Over half of the buses being built now in the world are electric; we want them,” he said.

Another major concern is the lack of reliable transportation for health services, Wiley explained.

“It’s an old saw but the people really need a direct bus from Nelson to the Trail hospital that doesn’t have two stops, two transfers and sometimes missed connections,” he said. “For older people who are maybe not well, it just doesn’t work.”

The third is to consider an on-demand bus in Nelson, like the Handi-dart one, but with expanded service. Wiley said the fourth one was the creation of Sunday transit service.

“It is really needed. It is expensive. Maybe that is where the on-demand bus could start,” said Wiley. “Leaving people high and dry on Sundays is not very good.”

The fifth point would be to urge the city to put pressure on the provincial government for the establishment of a province-wide public bus network.

“An affordable, public inter-city coach that can get us around our province is a vital public service and since Greyhound pulled out its low quality bus service in 2018, many people have few options to travel to see family and friends,” Andrew said.

The group has started an online petition (https://nelsonpublictransitaction.ca/take-action/) to be sent to Nelson city council and regional district directors to ask them to advocate for transit improvements.

Join the Action

The Action Group is looking to add more voices in support of a joint submission to Clean B.C. that contains:

• a boost in funding for better public transit services for “the rest of” B.C.;

“Great transit has been developing in the Lower Mainland, but rural citizens have far less access to services. For many buses are unavailable or very infrequent and sometimes unreliable and so few use them,” said Andrew.

• build an entire province-wide travel coach service;

“A quality, affordable service. This link completes the circuit and allows door-to-door transit services. Provide basic travel rights to thousands who cannot drive. Make it easier and cheaper to take the bus.”

• bring in electric buses and inter-city coaches as quickly as possible; and

“Phasing out diesel buses as they wear out is the best use of resources. Moving people from private vehicles to buses, even diesel, is a big emission saving,” Andrew explained.

• facilitate redevelopment of passenger and local freight train services;

• support a “new national dream” of a high speed rail corridor from Halifax to Vancouver.

Learn more and sign on to the submission at NelsonPublicTransitAction.ca.

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