April 01, 2015 - 8:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - In 2014 Kamloops city council members agreed to adding new transit buses and more service hours but a decision by the province to put a freeze on B.C. Transit funding means there will not be any additional services added this year, or for the next three years.
B.C. Transit representatives were before council Tuesday afternoon to break the news. They told the city there will not be any new funding for transit for the next three years. It will not fund expansion hours; not here, nor anywhere else.
Because B.C. Transit requires 18 months lead time city council was asked to agree to increased transit service levels for September 2015 during the 2014 budget process, which they did. But B.C. Transit has created this three year flat budget as mandated by the province and those service level increases will not be happening now, despite city approval.
According to Senior Transit Planner Shilpa Panicker there will be changes to existing services, but no funds allocated for future projects.
Based on an exhaustive study originating in 2012, B.C. Transit has released its recommendations for improvements to the Kamloops transit system. Panicker explained the final goals were to improve reliability and efficiency, while improving service during peak period hours. This would be accomplished by, amongst other changes, adjusting scheduled run times of the 5 Pineview and 9 Gleneagles routes, and reallocating resources of the 8 Battle route. These changes are set to be implemented September 2015.
Panicker likened the province’s flat budget to two jars of pebbles. One jar is completely full while the other is only half full. The goal is to balance both jars of pebbles, without being able to add any additional. She says the object here is to create a better transit system, while using the resources Kamloops already has.
Coun. Donovan Cavers expressed his frustration, calling the news disappointing. Cavers has already drafted a motion, which is expected to appear before council during their next meeting, in an attempt to lobby the province.
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