Transit supporters filled Nelson council chambers Monday night as BC Transit presented recommendations to council.
Members of the public took time during the Committee of the Whole meeting to ask questions and make suggestions.
The questions addressed the issue of the elimination of Sunday bus service, how and why the city took possession of the new city buses, and sustainability.
“BC Transit has not been putting us in a position of failure,” said Mayor John Dooley before Kevin Schubert addressed council on behalf of BC Transit.
“BC Transit has been a good partner,” Dooley added.
Council moved to adopt BC Transit’s changes which include no service to Perrier Road, the elimination of service to the Waldorf School and reduced summer service, which will become regular service.
Schubert said the Waldorf School service is being eliminated because providing service to a school that could be provided by a school bus falls into a “grey area” of BC Transit’s legislation.
Schubert also said based on the ridership numbers transit service to West Richards Street will continue.
“This has been a really difficult process,” said Councillor Kim Charlesworth. “The real silver lining that lies in this… is that we will end up with a better system.”
Dooley said many of the changes being made to Nelson’s transit system are to help the city’s system align with a regional system when it is implemented down the road.
“The recommendations that BC Transit made [at Monday’s meeting], I think were quite brilliant,” Councillor Donna Macdonald said. “With some pretty minor changes we’ve been able to eliminate a bus from our fleet, which is a huge savings. It’s really a matter of tweaking a couple of schedules in the late afternoon and not doing the Perrier Road run because it’s just not really being used.”
Like Charlesworth, Macdonald said the process of addressing the city’s transit changes has been difficult.
“I think myself and as a council we are really committed to transit,” said Macdonald. “It ties in so much with social and environmental issues as we try to reduce our carbon footprint. We’ve heard many times in the past few months of how important transit is, so to be in a situation where we have to look at discontinuing some service, isn’t easy.”
Schubert and council said as more significant long term changes are made — such as the proposed relocation of the downtown bus exchange — there will be more public consulation.
Council also recommended the public use the city’s transit system on Thursday, when transit will be free all day.
“Unfortunately I will be out of town on Thursday,” said Macdonald. “I did ride the bus last Friday, and I made a new promise that at least one trip a day from my home, which is on the top of Josephine Street, will involve walking and transit.”