A Longbeach man has started a Facebook group to encourage expanded transit to the North Shore, but the regional director for the area says there may be a long wait yet.
Scott Sutton doesn’t drive. Although he says he will hitchhike alone, when he’s with five-year-old son Stryder, the bus is their only transportation.
However, the last run of the day leaves Nelson at 6:20 p.m. on weekdays.
“You’re pretty much excluded,” Sutton says. “Forget about going to a show, forget about dinner, or anything at the Capitol Theatre. You just don’t go.”
Sutton says in the years he worked in town, he often made a “mad dash” to grab groceries before catching the bus home.
Now he comes into town about once a week and also rides the bus to Balfour to grab groceries at the store before rushing back for the return trip.
In addition to later runs, he says improved weekend service would be a blessing.
“There’s nothing on Sundays, which seems ridiculous, and only three runs on Saturday. That’s crazy as well.”
The last Saturday bus departs Nelson at 3:15 p.m.
“You’re trapped in or out of town at that point,” Sutton says. “People who want to go out for a drink either find a designated driver or don’t go. If the bus service was running, at least you’d have that option.”
He also says there are many weekend events in Nelson that North Shore residents without vehicles are unable to attend.
Sutton is surprised there aren’t more runs since the existing ones, particularly in the later afternoon, are “pretty much full.”
“It’s not like they don’t have public support,” he says. “They raised the rates, and even then people are still using them.”
He started the Facebook group because “I think most people really want more runs and a change in the schedule — they just don’t know how to go about voicing it.”
The Regional District of Central Kootenay set aside $12,000 in this year’s budget to provide a 10:15 p.m. run to the North Shore, but it’s unclear when it might begin.
Regional director Ramona Faust says it’s second priority behind expanded service to Blewett, but may be helped by the City of Nelson’s decision to drop some hours from in-town service. (The North Shore run is provided through Nelson Transit.)
“I expect it would not be available this year but when it all settles could happen quickly, so wanted to be prepared with financial capacity to take advantage of the opportunity,” Faust says. “Funds held will reduce next year’s taxation if nothing happens this year.”
However, she adds it’s “very frustrating to have a convoluted process.”
Joanna Linsangan with BC Transit said North Shore expansion is being considered as part of an overall West Kootenay plan, but discussions about implementing new and expanded routes will not begin until October.
As of Wednesday, the Facebook group had 26 members.
An older group with 62 members also exists, which calls for Saturday service between Kaslo and Nelson.