Nelson residents had their first peek what the new regional integrated transit system could look like.
A series of West Kootenay Transit open houses asked the public for feedback on the proposed route changes and fare structure.
“I think we’ve made a huge amount of progress in integrating the system and making it way more user friendly,” said Donna Macdonald, a city councillor and Nelson’s representative on the West Kootenay Transit Committee.
“Hopefully we’ll see a lot more people riding the bus and finding it a great service that’s a lot easier and less expensive than the cost of driving your car and having to pay for parking.”
Proposed changes to the Nelson routes include shortening the Rosemont and Uphill circuits and having the Fairview route run only in one direction, removing the confusion of alternating reverse routes that required riders to board the bus across the street from regular stops.
“We’ve streamlined the system based on rider counts and public input,” explained Jody Koehle, Nelson’s acting transit superintendent. “The idea is to provide better service to the areas where people ride the bus the most, and make the routes faster and more efficient.”
Public feedback at the open houses was mostly positive. People used red sticky dots to indicate how they feel about the plan, and most placed their dot in the space to show support for the proposal or to support most of the proposal with minor changes.
The most common request for change in the Nelson area was to have a bus running down Perrier Road, where there’s been several new developments in recent years.
“We’ll be taking all feedback into account and see if we find a way to address the concerns,” explained Koehle.
The biggest change under the integrated system will be the new zones and improved inter-city connections.
“We’ve improved connections at Playmor Junction, so it will be much easier to get from Nelson to Trail,” said Sharman Thomas, Transit supervisor Trail and Castlegar.
Two new early morning runs between Nelson and Castlegar are included on the proposed schedule, allowing riders to leave Nelson at around 6 a.m., 7 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. to get to work or appointments in neighbouring cities (the current schedule only has a 6:45 a.m. departure). Each of those morning runs have a connecting bus meeting it as Selkirk College for riders continuing on to Trail.
“The new system will have one standard look and feel — all the busses will look the same and transit operators will be wearing the same uniforms — so you can go between cities without feeling like you’re in a whole different system,” said Thomas.
The proposed new passenger fares are $2 for one zone (a 25 cent increase from the current rate) and $3.50 for all zones. The fare boundaries between Nelson and six mile point, and has been removed.
The new zone structure breaks the area into three broad zones. Nelson would fall into is called “Kootenay Zone” and includes all routes between Balfour and Playmor Junction. The “Slocan Zone” runs from Slocan City to the junction. And the “Columbia Zone” covers route south of the junction that go to Caslegar, Trail, Rossland and Fruitvale.
For full details on the proposed changes and to provide your feedback online, see bctransit.com/transitfuture and click “West Kootenay” in the current projects table on the right side of the screen.
The new schedules and fare structures will come into effect next April.