The business of buses

So, we all know that there has been discord in our fine city regarding BC Transit cutbacks and the effect it is having on our citizens.

So, we all know that there has been discord in our fine city regarding BC Transit cutbacks and the effect it is having on our citizens.

I could continue the discussion about the city’s lack of commitment to the community, etc., but I see another side of the story.

I think the city and maybe even the province are neglecting a hugely important aspect of this issue.

It’s a business, run it like one. It’s subsidized, yes, but still a business all the same.

If BC Transit is truly dedicated to an initiative to increase ridership, services need to be made available, that’s just good business. Here are some things to think about:

1) People don’t bother going into shops when the hours keep changing, they take their business elsewhere more reliable, why would transit services be any different?

2) Bus passes and tickets. Can I get them at Star Grocery? No. Burrell’s Grocery? No. Fairview Husky? No. 7-Eleven? No. Selkirk College bookstore or office? No. Chahko Mika Mall? No.

You can find them at City Hall or Wait’s News if they’re open. Handy if you live downtown. How many of us actually live downtown?

I think we all get the picture here.

You have to actually try to sell a product or service to make money, even kids running a lemonade stand will make big signs and let people know they are out there. Basic marketing here people. Sell, sell, sell!

3) There was no free transit for New Year’s Eve partiers, most communities have this option to encourage responsible choices after a night of drinking. It’s a great way to get people familiar with bus routes and encourage increased ridership all year round.

Yes guys, you have to pay your drivers. Get over it, you’ve got to spend money to make money.

4) Have holiday events, make transit the destination. Follow the example of communities with successful services, such as:

a) Have bus driver Santa behind the wheel of a bus decorated like Rudolph and encourage everyone to ride by describing how it makes a great tour to see people’s holiday light displays over winter vacation.

b) Host an Easter egg hunt on a bus or two the Saturday of Easter weekend.

c) Summertime and beach season? Every adult with a monthly transit pass could bring up to two children 12 years or under for free on weekends over the summer schedule. Start a Shambhala shuttle. Host a heritage home tour.

d) Halloween have a spooky bus and encourage parents to trick or treat with transit. Be sure to have a map highlighting fun school and community events along the route.

It’s true that we do have members of the community that are dependent on transit access and have mobility or financial limitations, but we all know that.

The more we use it as a platform for protest, however, the more the people and officials will turn a blind eye to these people — sad but all too true. Desensitization is like that.

I guess my final point is that I’m not convinced that the officials/employees that make decisions regarding this issue are truly exploring their options or working to develop a real plan. If so, we have yet to see evidence of it.

To those people who make these decisions I say this: Smarten up! If you worked for any other company the first thing they would axe is you. They would say, “You are cutting into the bottom line, make results that make money or we’ll find someone who can.”

I say this in closing to the folks in charge of making things happen. Come on, people — earn your keep. I put this all together after working an eight-hour bar shift all night New Year’s Eve and sleeping four hours. Show me you can do better.

Don’t be so lazy. Take some pride in your job and do it well.

Clarissa Thompson