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Bus riders take a stand for transit

Sorry, says city council to residents upset about transit cuts. A number of them pleaded with councillors Monday night to spare the service. - Greg Nesteroff photo
Sorry, says city council to residents upset about transit cuts. A number of them pleaded with councillors Monday night to spare the service.
— image credit: Greg Nesteroff photo

Nelson bus riders came out in force to Monday’s council meeting in support of transit services facing cuts.

The gallery was full of concerned residents asking the city to reconsider changes.

Karen Rymal spoke to council and presented a petition with 847 signatures in favour of preserving service to the West Richards, Selkirk College and Chahko Mika Mall stops.

Rymal lives in Cedar Grove Estates and said many of the building’s residents rely on transit services.

“One resident is legally blind, many have chronic pain and there is another resident with nerve damage,” she said.

Rymal made some suggestions to council as alternatives to the proposed cuts, such as selling the new bigger buses and replacing them with smaller ones, and  promoting bus use with residents who don’t normally use transit.

She said she has spoken with seniors who rely on transit and will lose their independence without it.

John O’Neill challenged council to put their cars away for a year and ride the bus.

“Or have your car taken away, because you’re taking away my bus,” he said.

City manager Kevin Cormack responded by saying that council approached BC Transit to review its routes; something that hadn’t been done in some time.

He said the city is looking at implementing more direct routes instead of the circuitous routes that currently exist.

The city is collecting data on ridership numbers for the West Richards route before cuts are made.

The elimination of Sunday service was also questioned.

Cormack said  ridership for Sunday service was the lowest.

“If we build more effective runs and increase the ridership, we could look at bringing back Sunday service,” he said.

Councillor Deb Kozak said council did question the need for larger buses and asked BC Transit to look at the availability of smaller buses.

BC Transit said the smaller buses are not available for up to two years.

“We understand that’s not good enough,” said Kozak. “It’s important that we hear from the public about any decisions we make.”

Cormack said  many changes to transit are part of an effort to regionalize services.

Starting August 1, busses will no longer run on Sunday, saving the city $13,000 this year and $31,000 annually. The elimination of service on Perrier Road will save up to $4,500 this year and up to $14,000 annually.

For a copy of the transit review visit the City of Nelson website at nelson.ca or contact city hall for a hard copy.

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