Getting around town by bus could become easier in the next couple years, as city council has moved to support plans by BC Transit to expand transit services in the city.
On Sept. 7, Campbell River city council endorsed a series of proposed BC Transit expansion initiatives for city transit services by 2023. The city’s transit system was expanded in 2018 and then adjusted in 2019, but plans to further broaden the service were put on hold because of the pandemic.
The proposed changes include a 930 service hours increase for the city’s eight-route conventional bus services, estimated to cost the city $48,000. Starting in January 2023, this change would result in more frequent transit services on select routes, without the need for additional buses.
This was selected over another option to increase service by 1,500 hours that would require two additional buses and come with a $173,000 price tag.
The service expansion plan also proposes enhancing two services providing accessible transportation to those unable to use or navigate conventional bus services.
The first is HandyDART, a door-to-door, ride-share service, currently running Monday through Saturday. The plan is to increase this service by 750 hours, allowing the service to be provided on Sundays, thereby extending its offering to seven days a week.
Another service that could receive increased support is the Taxi Saver Supplements. This service uses taxis to provide transportation to those qualified for HandyDART.
“What this does is provide coupons for people who qualify for HandyDART services, but don’t always need HandyDART services,” said Drew Hadfield, the city’s director of operations. “They may be somewhat mobile or their schedules for appointments are such that they can use a taxi within the community.”
This taxi-based service also has a lower operational cost than HandyDART, while providing the same door-to-door service, he added.
Two thirds of the cost of the taxi supplements is provided by the province, while the rest is funded by the city. An increase of $5,1000 of city funding is being proposed.
Coun. Kermit Dahl suggested the city could run a promotional campaign, possibly in partnership with Greenways Trust or the Campbell River Environmental Committee, to increase ridership and thereby enhance the fiscal sustainability of the city’s transit service.
“It may never be self-sufficient, but at least we wouldn’t be going back to the taxpayer for all the money,” he said.