Council approves Revelstoke transit system expansion

Revelstoke city councillors have voted unanimously to expand and modify the existing transit service in Revelstoke, opting for a new four-route transit system that includes a new, extra bus

Revelstoke city councillors have voted unanimously to expand and modify the existing transit service in Revelstoke, opting for a new four-route transit system that includes a new, extra bus.

The decision was made at a Mar. 4 committee of the whole meeting. Final city council approval is still needed, but is likely considering the unanimous committee vote.

BC Transit had been collaborating with the city on a transit review since 2010, including public consultation sessions.

The review resulted in a report that recommended changing the existing two-route system with four shorter, faster, more-direct routes. The routes meet at a Grizzly Plaza hub and fan out on routes into Columbia Park, Big Eddy, Hospital/Southside and Hospital/Arrow Heights.

A staff report from city economic development director Alan Mason recommended the new system.

It was the lowest level of additional service presented in several different scenarios. Mason explained that even though proposals with higher levels of service were presented in the report, funding from BC Transit would not likely be available for them soon. They would also have cost the city more.

At the Mar. 1 meeting, BC Transit regional representative Steve Harvard told the committee that a phased approach was best. “You typically are better doing it incrementally,” Harvard said. If ridership increases, “then we can go to that next level,” he added.

Other questions focused on promoting ridership. Once in place, the new system will be promoted. Harvard noted part of the problem behind stagnating ridership in Revelstoke was the existing level of service. “Quite frankly, a lot of people can walk faster than take the bus,” he said. The changes would “shorten the trip time significantly,” thus promoting ridership, Harvard added.

The extra cost to the city for the expanded service is expected to be $43,000 annually. The new cost will be covered through a federal gas tax fund.

The change will mean reduced service to parts of Arrow Heights. Mason’s report cited, “very little use of the transit service in that area of the community.”

A new stop will be added at the Revelstoke Seniors’ Centre.

The new routes will not take effect until after the new bus is ready, which won’t be until September or October.