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Sunday not sacred as council sacrifices sabbath transit service

The only Sunday service transit system in the Kootenays is now cut.

City council voted Monday night in favour of slicing and dicing the Sunday offering in order to save $31,000 out of the City’s annual budget for transit.

The move couldn’t be carried out fast enough for some, including Mayor John Dooley, who has been outspoken in the past, raising the alarm about the rising costs of delivering public transit.

However, Coun. Robin Cherbo asked repeatedly in council during their special afternoon meeting on Monday, to take the issue of making cuts to tranist to the public before they made a decision.

He said the total cuts proposed — an annual savings of up to $124,000 for the City, according to BC Transit’s recommendations — in delivering transit service was about a one per cent tax increase worth of savings.

If council went to the public before making a decision, he said, maybe Nelson’s taxpayers would be okay with a one per cent tax increase for transit.

"I would sooner see this whole review go out to the public for consultation. We are trying to encourage people to ride buses in this day and age, and here we are cutting services," said Coun. Cherbo.

But according to BC Transit’s report, Sunday service would have the least ridership loss out of any route on any day. Sunday bus service in Nelson will be cut as of Aug. 1.

  • See part two of the depth and breadth of the transit cuts in Nelson tomorrow on The Nelson Daily.

The cost of the transit service in Nelson had risen sharply in the last three years. The City’s contribution had increased from approximately $220,000 in 2008 to almost $400,000 in 2011, due to decreasing revenue, higher fuel costs and debt servicing on the acquisition of a new fleet.

The largest ridership was students, but ridership had been decreasing as student enrolment dropped, decreasing revenue.

During the 2011 budget discussions it was identified the City’s contribution to Nelson Transit would have to be increased by $128,000 from 2010 to fund the higher costs of operating the transit system in the city.

City staff and BC Transit were asked to identify the cost of transit delivery, sourcing out options to reduce transit costs both short term and medium term.

The extra revenue to fund the shortfall has been allocated from increased parking meter rates ($100,000) and an increase in transit rates ($28,000).

editor@thenelsondaily.com

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