New approach to Columbia Valley transit service expansion
The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Board of Directors is taking a new approach to the proposed Columbia Valley Transit service expansion.
“We recognize the current service levels aren’t meeting the needs of residents and we remain committed to looking at ways to both improve access to the service and increase ridership,” said Columbia Valley Services Committee Chair Clara Reinhardt.
The original service expansion proposal would have required a bylaw amendment to increase the tax rate for the service, thereby allowing for increased revenues to offset the cost of a proposed expansion. This would have required a complex assent process for the three Columbia Valley municipalities and Electoral Areas F and G.
“Over the past few months, new information has come to light which has caused us to take a step back and re-evaluate what an expanded service could look like,” added Reinhardt.
A recent increase in assessed values in the Columbia Valley has resulted in more available funding within the current bylaw, which means there may be room to expand the service options to include weekend service or investigate a commuter model, for example.
Further, BC Transit will soon be launching interactive real-time technology that will show riders where busses are at and when they will arrive at the various stops. A review of the current routes also highlighted the lack of poles and signs at bus stops around the valley, and work is underway to get signage erected.
The province, which is a key funder of the transit service, also announced they are working towards maintaining essential service levels with very limited service expansions for 2022/2023, and it is unknown if they will support expansions in 2023.
“When we looked at all these factors, we recognized that the best way to move forward was to ask staff and BC Transit to re-evaluate the proposed significant service expansion and report back to the board with a list of potential options to move forward in new ways with cost-neutral changes that will meaningfully improve service for the public,” said Reinhardt.
As part of the new planning process, representatives from BC Transit will meet with the board in May and will be spending time in the Columbia Valley on the transit system.
The earliest a modified service expansion could proceed would be 2023.
e-KNOW file photo