The community will evaluate a new West Kootenay Transit system next week as the bussing system puzzle takes shape after extensive consultation and planning.
Meribeth Burton of BC Transit is enthusiastic about what the authority has come up with. The big reveal has major changes to the current system looking official and ready for comment.
People in the region will see what the bus routes, schedules, fare structure and the timing points are. The system will go into effect in the spring if this is what the community wants, explained Burton.
“This is the last chance to have input before the first ever integrated transit system goes into effect,” she said. “We want to hear back from the community. Did we hear you correctly?”
Because people in the West Kootenay are engaged and actively interested in their transit system, Burton believes the transit authority is less likely to have to go back and make further changes once the process is complete in 2013.
“Sometimes when you see it on paper, and you can see these giant boards with the maps and read the schedule and what the times are at your bus stop, then it becomes real and people can really conceptualize. It’s definitely not too late to make changes. The greater number of voices we hear from, the more accurate the system can be right from the get go,” she said.
An obviously new feature will be smaller busses on the road to make better use of resources during slower commuting times. But the subtle differences are the ones that are going to make bus riding more accessible to commuters. A highlight is better integration of the regional system so that common resources are better used and fares and timing points will be easier to manage, explained Burton.
“Everyone will know what the level playing field is,” she said. “As it is now, the fare structure can change by 50 cents or a quarter depending on how far you are going along the line. It gets a bit confusing. People are crossing a boundary that you can barely see and wondering if they now put in 50 cents.”
Burton expects many will be interested in seeing how the completed public transportation service is shaped – especially their loyal riders. But just because someone doesn’t ride the bus today, doesn’t mean this open house doesn’t apply.
“There’s always a new generation of people who are looking to make that move,” Burton said. “People who are considering using transit should come. If you use transit, you are promoting a healthier lifestyle; you are going to save lots of money by leaving your single occupancy vehicle at home. We hope that everyone gives us a chance and comes to give input.”
High school students planning on studying in the region after graduation can consider their transportation options, for example. Commuters looking to get downtown or between cities in the region, that have found it inconvenient in the past, can come and check if new routes and times make it more handy.
“We’d like to see this more as a commuter service where people can get on a bus and use a smart-phone or read a newspaper and travel from community to community. We got you there safely while you did work along the way. You’ve got the convenience of not having to park and all those frustrations. Let us take some of the stress off and take you where you need to go,” said Burton.
West Kootenay Transit open house Nelson stops are Tuesday, Dec. 4 from 11 to 1 p.m. at Selkirk College, 10th Street Campus and Nelson Museum from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. On Dec. 5, residents can take a look at Selkirk College, Silver King Campus from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m..
Those not able to attend can view the proposed system online at www.bctransit.com until Dec. 13.