For a Salmon Arm woman, improvements to the Shuswap Transit system can’t come soon enough.
Marina Mactavish addressed city council in 2018, requesting that recommendations from a 2017 transit study be revisited.
“I’m frustrated because with gas prices rising, cost of living increases, and population growth, we could sure use Sunday service to get shoppers and employees out to the malls,” she told the Observer on Nov. 10. She made reference to the Ross Street Underpass project, stating council will spend $16 million on it but not a much smaller amount for good, inclusive bus service.
Meanwhile, Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, said staff have been working with BC Transit on service changes to be implemented in the new year.
He said the improvements include extension of service hours for Route 1 West Loop, Route 2 College/Hillcrest, Route 3 Canoe and Route 5 Shopper Shuttle. If accepted, the extension would be to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Currently, buses stop running by about 6 or 6:30 p.m. depending on the route.
The other change under discussion is Sunday service on Route 1 West Loop and Route 2 College/Hillcrest, Niewenhuizen said.
Mayor Alan Harrison noted that transit is a shared cost – about 50/50 – between the province and the city. He said BC Transit had put a freeze on expansion in the province during the pandemic, but the city is currently in talks with BC Transit around service expansion.
“In 2021 the city spent $680,000 on transit services, which was matched by the province for a total budget of about $1.3 million,” Harrison said.
Shuswap Connextions, a local self-advocacy group for people with disabilities based at Okanagan College, began lobbying for better transit service in the area in 2015.
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