A fresh push is on to include Sicamous in the Shuswap’s BC Transit routes. (BC Transit photo)

Lack of public transit limiting access to medical care

Sicamous resident wants BC Transit option available to community

Marcia Nauss wants to see Sicamous connected to the other parts of the Shuswap by BC Transit.

Nauss, a 71-year-old lifelong Sicamous resident, noted past efforts to bring transit service to Sicamous have been unsuccessful. Now she is faced with the agonizing decision of whether or not to move to Salmon Arm in order to have easier access to medical care if she finds herself unable to drive.

“I shouldn’t have to be in that position because I’ve lived here my whole life, but I have to make the decision because there’s no transportation,” she said.

“You used to be able to take the Greyhound in to Salmon Arm if you had a doctor’s appointment.”

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She noted there is an Interior Health-funded health connections bus which runs between Revelstoke and either Kamloops or Kelowna, depending on the day, but it’s infrequent schedule makes it unsuitable for some people.

Nauss compared the transit situation in Sicamous to that in Nakusp, where she owns a cabin, and noted many small communities in the Kootenays are connected with BC Transit buses.

She plans to send a letter to Sicamous council requesting they take action to bring transit to the area.

A representative of BC Transit said they are willing to discuss the expansion of the transit system with any community that does not have transit and wants to look into it. They stated that in cases where neighbouring communities already have BC Transit service, expansion of the current system to connect with the new community is an option to be considered.

BC Transit funds 46.69 per cent of conventional fixed-route transit systems. The rest of the operating costs are funded by local governments through property taxes and revenue from fares.

Malcolm Makayev, the Sicamous councillor charged with the transportation portfolio, said a bus service for the area would have to be heavily subsidized in order to operate.

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He agreed the health connections bus did not entirely meet the needs of seniors as it only runs two days a week and passengers are dropped off for appointments early in the morning and have to wait until the late afternoon to be picked up if they are only riding to Salmon Arm.

“We haven’t had any talks with BC Transit about increasing the number of routes between Revelstoke and Kelowna or Revelstoke and Kamloops,” he said.

Makayev is also the executive director of an organization called Eagle Valley Transportation which provides free rides for Sicamous-area residents in need, primarily for medical appointments. The transportation society’s volunteer drivers provide door-to-door transportation by appointment. Makayev said transportation services that operate on a schedule are bound to encounter low ridership due to the sparse population in the area.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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