BC Transit is proposing improvements to Campbell River’s transit system that would include two new transit hubs and two new buses – but would come at a cost for the city.
The plan involves an expansion in service of 1,500 hours annually by next September, two extra buses, additional bus stops if required, and a transit exchange in both Willow Point and Campbellton.
Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, said the expansion plan will cost the city roughly $32,000 between September and December, 2017 and $128,000 every year after that.
The figures are based on a cost sharing agreement under which the city pays 53 per cent of public transit costs while the province pays 47 per cent.
The city does, however, receive 100 per cent of the revenue generated through fares and advertising on the buses.
Hadfield said that BC Transit’s target date for implementation of the system improvements is September, 2017.
One of the key changes is the establishment of transit terminals on either end of the city. BC Transit has proposed building the Campbellton transit hub on 16th Avenue in between where Highway 19 splits in two directions near the Esso gas station and the Willow Point terminal on Erickson Road at Highway 19A.
But Coun. Larry Samson said at last week’s Monday meeting that the hubs may be better suited elsewhere.
“The (city’s) public safety committee has some strong concerns with the location of the Campbellton one, with it being in between the two highways,” Samson said.
Hadfield replied that if council does approve a budget for the expanded service, that engagement with the public will follow in order to gather input.
“Public consultation will happen after the budget is approved and that will happen early in the New Year,” Hadfield said.
Mayor Andy Adams said he was happy to hear that was the case.
“I’m certainly pleased to hear that because I think both Willow Point and Campbellton have opportunities for input,” Adams said.
If, during this week’s budget deliberations, council does approve the expansion plan – which also contains improving service frequency to 20 minutes or more during peak travel times along the Dogwood/Alder corridor – Hadfield said staff have come up with $46,000 in the budget to fund the improvements.
But, he said, city staff would need council’s commitment for reallocation of funds from roads and transportation, as well as additional funds for 2018.
“As such, council can anticipate an SLCR (service level change request) for $82,000 in 2018, which is the net commitment of additional funding required to fund this ongoing new service that has been submitted for 2017 financial planning.”
Hadfield added that there may be an opportunity to generate additional dollars through an update of fees.
“Staff will be working with BC Transit to undertake a fare review prior to the planned expansion,” Hadfield said. “These are generally done every five years and the last fare review was undertaken in 2012. This will provide the city the opportunity to look at a new fare structure that will result in additional revenue for the system.”