Improvements in store for valley transit

RDEK directors for the Columbia Valley are working to improve public transit

Low ridership and sparsely populated rural routes have defined the Columbia Valley’s bus system for some time, but BC Transit and the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) directors for the Columbia Valley are working to change that situation.

At their regular monthly meeting in Cranbrook on Thursday, October 3rd, the Columbia Valley directors (Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras, Radium mayor Dee Conklin, Area G director Gerry Wilkie and Area F director Wendy Booth) approved a BC Transit proposal to implement an additional round trip between Invermere and Edgewater, and one between Invermere and Canal Flats, during the off-peak period. The proposal also introduces a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon 40- to 45-minute on-demand period (BC Transit has noted an increase in the use of the on-demand service since 2010, mainly by seniors residing in local seniors’ residences).

Additionally, service along Columbia Lake Road south of Fairmont has been cancelled.

The proposal echoes a scenario the regional district directors had authorized back in August, with one exception. The board had requested that the regular route to the south deviate to include a stop at the Columbia Ridge postal boxes along Columbia Lake Road, since service along the full length of the road was being discontinued.

BC Transit advised against this, stating in the report that lack of current and potential ridership, snow removal issues, and the additional time this would take was poor use of existing transit resources.

“Adding a stop at the Columbia Ridge postal boxes will result in four stops per day and require approximately 30 hours per year,” said BC Transit Community Services Manager Shannon Moskal in a letter. “This will require either a decrease in service elsewhere or an increase in service hours and cost.”

BC Transit estimates the approved changes will provide an additional 120 hours of service per year and increase annual ridership by 5,500.