The organizer of a protest rally against cuts to Nelson’s bus service says he was not discouraged despite only a “modest” turnout Sunday.
“I never planned for this to be a big demonstration, especially since it was the long weekend, with Kaslo Jazz Fest, Cyswog ‘n Fun Triathlon, and other events,” Curtis Nickason says.
“This one was more symbolic than anything as it was the last Sunday we will see a bus on our streets for the foreseeable future.”
Nickason says the main purpose of the protest was to highlight a lack of public involvement in the decision making process.
“We believe there must be a better way to address a deficit than to cut a service that is needed in our city. Overall, I would count this day as a success,” he said.
People unable to stay for the full demonstration or who couldn’t attend submitted comment cards.
“Cutting transit in this time of climate change is absurd,” Howie Ross wrote. “If politicians used public transit, their cuts would not happen. Many people need this service. Find some other place to save money!”
“I do depend on the bus when walking is not an option,” said Zack Ruvinsky. “I think getting a smaller bus could solve the issues.”
John O’Neill asked what would happen when fuel costs rise even higher.
“People will start to discover they cannot afford owning and using a car, but if nothing is done today to preserve our transit service, what option will people have to get around affordably in the future?”
Nickason says over 100 cards were received, and many were angry that the transit reductions will result in higher costs to get to work.
“The cost of just about everything has gone up, while wages have remained stagnant,” he said.
“Forcing transit users to find alternative transportation places even more of a financial hardship on our most vulnerable citizens.”
Some people called for a one cent per litre gas tax, while others said they wouldn’t oppose further increases to transit fares to address the deficit.
Nickason has also created a Facebook group called the Nelson Transit Riders Community.
He says the one downside to the event was that his eight-year-old son Jacob had his handheld video game stolen while he was participating in the protest.