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Drunken revellers put free bus rides for Greater Trail area under review

Highly intoxicated youth on New Year’s Eve may bring a downfall to the free rides offered to all residents by B.C. Transit on that night.

Meribeth Burton, spokesperson for B.C. Transit, said approximately 200 drunk and rowdy youth surrounded the 1 a.m. free ride in Rossland Tuesday morning, which prompted a call for RCMP escorts and a review of the service in general.

“In the last three years, there has been problems with intoxicated youth, on our buses (in Greater Trail),” she explained.  “It’s a problem and something we are taking a very hard look at.”

According to Burton, the large group of intoxicated youth surrounded the bus and starting banging on it, accompanied by other, “general bad behavior.”

Sergeant Robert Hawton of the Trail RCMP detachment said  police responded to the call but the youth had dispersed.

No charges were laid.

Burton said that driver safety was addressed a few years ago, with the hiring of a private security guard for each driver on every bus.

“This year, the operator and the security detail felt they had to leave the area for safety reasons.

“However, for example, Victoria offered exactly the same service, and we had not one complaint.”

Approximately 400 revelers in Greater Trail boarded the New Year’s Eve ride, and 65 riders in Castlegar took advantage of the free program.

B.C. Transit operated free extended hours in 132 communities with 15 to 20 of those communities offering free and extended service.

“It’s a small minority that who may end up spoiling this tremendous service for everyone else,” said Burton.

Meanwhile, Hawton  reported 117 files from Dec. 25 to Jan. 2.

“We were busy with mostly routine calls, like lost property,” he said,

Although, scanning the list of files, Hawton was pleased to note that there weren’t any DUI offenses.

West Kootenay Traffic Services were expected to release its holiday season data before the end of the week.

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