If you could hop in Marty McFly’s DeLorean and travel back in time to last September with a copy of today’s Star, the story today would be puzzling. City wins award for transit? What about all the outrage over changes to Nelson transit?
It’s true time travellers: the City has been recognized by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities for helping make the regional transit system better. Strange days indeed.
“The transit one is kind of interesting because there was quite a pushback from many people about the changes to the transit system,” Mayor John Dooley told the Star on Monday. “But the work we did upfront was the trigger for looking at a more regional strategy around transit.”
Transit has long been a challenge in rural BC. In a community like Nelson, it’s made even more difficult. This community must overcome the terrain and flow from outside the city limits in order to provide a solid system that appeals to the masses. Given the steep slopes, heavy snowfall and commutes from the regional district, the large majority of people opt for hopping in the car instead of riding the bus.
Watching near empty busses roar past during non-peak hours does not make taxpayers tingle with excitement. And the politicians elected to represent the people hear about it when it comes time to make decisions on how to best spend our money.
So last year city council made changes. Cutting Sunday service and modifying routes did not go over well. There was an outcry, it became an election issue last fall and many letters to the editor were written.
In the meantime, the West Kootenay-Boundary transit committee plugged away at making the regional system more attractive to our vehicle-obsessed neck of the woods. Local leaders and BC Transit unveiled their plans this past spring and were proud of what they accomplished.
Winning an award does not solve all the problems linked to rural transit. But being recognized by peers does indicate we are on the right path. Transit is important to this region’s future and let’s hope every time a community leader passes by the shiny glass trophy at City Hall they remember that there is still plenty of work to be done.