April 09, 2015 - 7:23 AM
The decision by the provincial government to stop expansion of transit in Kamloops, and across the province, is disappointing. Very disappointing in fact. The decision is short sighted, and ignores the needs of our community.
The provincial government won’t be funding an additional 6,000 hours of regular service and 2,500 hours of HandyDART service for Kamloops Transit. Even though they wanted to fund their half, the City of Kamloops isn’t allowed to expand the service on their own. There won’t be additional service expansions for three years.
Kamloopsians depend on transit to get around the city. Over 3.4 million people take the bus every year. That means, on average, every resident took transit 40 times per year. Of course not every single person takes the bus that often, and some may never take the bus. But transit benefits us all.
It benefits a young man I know who takes the bus to his 11 p.m. graveyard shift at Walmart, and then again at the end of his shift at 7 in the morning. Because he has to take two buses to get to work, the early morning buses and late night buses mean he can get to and from work in a just over an hour.
The buses also benefit businesses like Walmart. One in three people in Kamloops don’t drive, either because they don’t have a driver’s license or don’t have a vehicle. Transit means employees can get to and from work.
Transit benefits an 80-year-old woman I know. She probably drove at one time, but she doesn’t now. She lives downtown where she can walk to everything she needs. Except for one thing, the most important thing. Her husband, who has Alzheimer’s, is in an extended care facility in Aberdeen. She takes the bus up and down the hill to see him. The bus gives her the independence to get around town. The bus gives both her and her husband companionship. It also benefits everyone who cares for both of them, knowing she can get to see her husband.
Transit benefits drivers too. I only occasionally take transit in Kamloops but I know I benefit from it. I have about a 12-minute commute to work. And that’s in the height of rush hour. If there were no buses, there would be far more cars on the road, and everyone would spend more time driving and burning gas.
Worst affected may be the people who rely on HandyDART to get around. This service is already maxed out. One of the biggest users of the service are people with kidney disease who must go three times a week to Interior Health for dialysis. The number of people with kidney disease is going up at about nine per cent per year. Yet Kamloopsians will have no additional HandyDART service for at least three years.
Drive down any of Kamloops’ main roads at any time of day or night, on any day of the week, and you will see people waiting for the bus. Because of the provincial government, there will be fewer new options for taking the bus, including for those people needing to work early or late, or those who need HandyDART for life saving therapies.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015