City mulls over trolley bus

Campbell River may be the proud owner of a new trolley bus.

The city is considering purchasing a bio-diesel trolley bus but what it will be used for is still up in the air.

Ben Chalmers, Rivercorp chair, recommends the trolley replace the existing city bus on the downtown core/Willow Point oceanside route. Council had originally requested Rivercorp develop a business case for a downtown trolley bus but that proposal would see the city lose thousands of dollars a year.

“We found through the business plan that we don’t believe a downtown trolley bus would make generate enough revenue through advertising to sustain itself,” said Chalmers.

Operating the bus solely downtown would see a projected deficit of $80,000 to $90,000 per year.

Chalmers said there is a much higher likelihood of bringing in the dollars needed to make the trolley bus viable if it were to operate between downtown and Willow Point.

“There’s a number of residents that live along that corridor plus there’s people walking along the Sea Walk that could walk one way and then get a ride back to their starting point,” he said.

According to the business case, it’s expected the trolley bus would attract 5,000 riders per month and the majority of ridership would be low income residents, students and day care providers. The trolley would be free of charge but an average donation of $.25 would be expected.

In building a business case, Rivercorp looked at the communities of Ladysmith and Langford which both run trolly buses. In Ladysmith, ridership is by donation and those have been lower than expected. The business case report says Ladysmith is concerned as to where it will get money for the bus in the future as the trolley puts a lot of mileage on and the wear and tear is increasing. In Langford, the city runs two trolleys at a loss but they look at it as community building, according to the report. The bus uses biodiesel and the ads on the bus show that corporate citizens are willing to step up and help.

To purchase a trolley for Campbell River could cost anywhere from $40,000 to $90,000, depending on the type of bus.

It would cost roughly $70 per hour to operate and insurance would cost $5,000 annually, according to a report to council by Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager.

City council received Rivercorp’s report on the trolley bus last week but took no further action.

Coun. Andy Adams said he would like to know what the full impact to the transit system would be before moving forward.

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