With many municipalities in the province having difficultly balancing budgets, Nelson is no exception. One of the budget costs overruns for the city budget of 2010 was Nelson Transit.
In the last few months, city administration and council met with BC Transit to review the cost of supplying bus service in the City of Nelson. Over the last few years the cost has increased from approximately $200,000 per year to $400,000 in 2010.
The main increase was the new larger transit buses that replaced the older city buses. Although the new buses are more fuel efficient, because of their larger size, they use more fuel to travel the city streets and roads. The other reason for the large increase was the finance charges for the six new buses, which is approximately $45,000 per bus.
The City and BC Transit have been looking at ways to reduce costs of which one in the short term was eliminating Sunday bus service in Nelson.
I was the only councillor who voted against this reduction in service and suggested all cost cutting measures should go to a public meeting for feedback and suggestions on how to deal with this financial problem.
A quote from Principals of Public Participation is: “Those affected by a decision have the right to be involved in the decision-making process.”
Other suggestions included reducing bus service to the upper Rosemont area and the Chahko Mika Mall, which have been put on hold waiting for a report on usage. Also, this financial shortfall needs more input from the operators of the buses to look for efficiencies without reductions in service.
Already letters and concerned citizens at our last council meeting have stated that the reduction of bus service could cause serious problems for the current ridership.
Along with this, one councillor is requesting a review of senior parking passes. Bus service and senior parking passes are public services the city provides for taxpayers and are not intended to be cost neutral. As well, it does not make sense to cut bus service and at the same time have a plan to reduce greenhouse gases. To increase the distance to walk to access a city buses, especially in winter, may be too difficult and hazardous for seniors, the disabled and young families.
For that very reason, the bus terminal area should remain on Ward Street and Baker Street and not be moved to Victoria Street.
I believe that the whole transit system review needs to have more public and political input to find better solutions rather than reducing city bus service. I am in favor of finding more efficiency in the bus system, but without reduction of bus services to areas now covered.
Because of this and other issues I have decided to run again in the next civic election.