Increased bus service will come to Salmon Arm by September of next year, as long as the province approves the funding.
Chris Fudge, senior manager with BC Transit government relations, came to the city’s planning meeting Monday, Aug. 19 to provide an update on transit service.
He referred to three route changes council approved in May.
They came from a 2017 Shuswap Regional Transit Service Performance Check-in by BC Transit, which was based on ridership and public feedback, as well as previous discussions with council and staff.
• Sunday service on routes 1 (West Loop) and 2 (College/Hillcrest).
• Later evening Friday and Saturday service to 10 p.m. on two routes to start in order to gauge popularity.
• Later evening service weekdays to 8 p.m.
Fudge said the Sunday evening service was the most requested change. It would only be provided for select routes, to allow the gauging of its success.
“We can determine if we want to expand further to other routes,” he said, noting the plan is dependent on provincial funding approval. “We would be looking at September 2020 for implementation of new service options.”
Over the last three years, the number of passengers on the Shuswap system has declined from 113,000 down to 109,000 passengers per year, he said. “So it’s a slight decline.”
But ‘key performance indicators’ are positive, he emphasized. Compared to the previous year and to the ‘peer average,’ which entails measuring about 30 other transit systems in B.C. communities with similar populations, Salmon Arm’s passengers per hour – at 9.2 – is still well above average.
The operating cost per passenger at 10.41 cents is also well below peer average.
Salmon Arm holds the agreement with BC Transit, and at the local level the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the Adams Lake Band are partners. First Transit provides the service, using eight ‘light duty’ buses carrying 20 passengers each.
Fudge said the City of Salmon Arm pays 46.31 per cent of transit costs while the province chips in 53.69 per cent.
Louise Wallace Richmond asked if he could put council in touch with the right person who can help get city social agencies in touch with passes. He said council should start with him.
Wallace Richmond also said she and her children take transit and the drivers are kind and cooperative and take the safety of passengers to heart. Fudge said he’ll pass on the compliment.
Coun. Tim Lavery asked about the implementation of electric buses and said Salmon Arm would welcome the opportunity to host a pilot project.