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Transit expansion set for November

Additional bus runs between Nelson and the North Shore, Blewett, and Castlegar will begin in the fall.

Additional bus runs between Nelson and the North Shore, Blewett, and Castlegar will begin in the fall.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay approved the expanded services last week, which are set to take effect November 1.

Although the exact routes and schedules have yet to be finalized, regional director Ramona Faust anticipates another bus departing Nelson for Balfour at 8:30 p.m. weekdays. Currently the last North Shore bus leaves Nelson at 6:20 p.m.

Although she would like to see the bus leave town as late as possible, she’s been told it has to be back in Nelson by 10 p.m.

“I would love a bus [departing] after 10 so people who work at the big stores would have an opportunity to get in and out and people could also go to the Capitol Theatre and take in musical events and get home on the bus,” she says. “But according to the different shifts required from Nelson Transit, that’s not possible.”

The extra run is the combined result of $12,000 set aside by the regional district in this year’s budget and the fact the City of Nelson recently cut Sunday service, which frees up some driver hours.

The Blewett expansion, meanwhile, is expected to see an additional three runs per day at non-peak hours, although Faust is still hoping to get a peak hour run in the morning.

“Our preliminary thoughts are there will be one morning, one midday and one later in the afternoon,” she says. “We’re expecting it might go to the Carlson Road area, but that’s not definite.”

Although the existing bus between Nelson and the Playmor Junction travels through Blewett upon request, Faust says this would be a dedicated service between Nelson and Blewett. The regional district included $6,000 in this year’s budget for the extra runs.

Both the Blewett and North Shore expansions will be six-month trials.

“My message to constituents is we’re really on a use-it-or-lose-it with these,” Faust says.

November 1 is the implementation date because that’s when a new schedule takes effect for both the Nelson and Castlegar transit systems.

Faust says between now and then, planning also needs to be completed including consulting the Ministry of Transportation on the site of new stops and ensuring they don’t encroach on private property.

“It’s a big rigamarole,” she admitted.

A fourth daily run is also being added between Nelson and Castlegar, which is one of the most-used routes in the regional district.

It’s expected to leave Selkirk College in Castlegar at 5:37 p.m. Currently the last bus of the day goes at 4 p.m.

A fourth run was implemented between Trail and Castlegar in 2010 but isn’t met by a connecting bus to Nelson.