While other West Kootenay areas await major changes to how transit is delivered, Greater Trail residents have had the benefit of the last eight months to enjoy their refinements, according to a B.C. Transit official at an open house in Trail last Thursday.
Regional transit manager for B.C. Transit, Kevin Schubert, said Trail received two significant alterations in transit service in March, including extended daily and late evening service on Friday.
But as the final stop on the West Kootenay Transit Committee’s open house series on the make over for regional transit, the Trail event last Thursday was to inform people of the plans and seek final input before the regional service goes fully operational in the spring of 2013.
Schubert said three more changes are yet to come in Trail as the service prepares to load: new times for transit to Nelson (for students in Selkirk College trades programs), a new regional fare structure, and a new local zone that includes Castlegar.
The new regional fare structure means people can travel easily not just within Trail, but within the region, said Schubert.
“One fare means you can travel within the local zone, or one (regional) fare to hit the whole region,” he said. “So you don’t have to get complicated about how much it will be from change to change.”
The committee has now created three zones for the entire region, including the Columbia zone—which melds Castlegar, Trail, Fruitvale, Rossland and the former Kootenay Boundary service—meaning people can ride anywhere in the zone for one rate.
The other two zones—Slocan zone (Playmor Junction up to Slocan City) and the Kootenay zone, which includes Nelson—can be accessed by the all-zone or regional pass.
Prior to the change, people had to pay two top ups, paying as much as $5.50 to travel across the multiple service areas, and consult several different ride guides to figure out how to get there.
“We felt that was a detriment, especially for seniors, to trying to use the bus as well because it was complicated,” Schubert said. “This is really now connecting everything else in the region. The intent is to encourage the regional travel … and get the ridership to support further increases (in service).”
The local zone fare for Greater Trail stays at $2 but will include Castlegar, while the all zone fare is $3.50, down from $4.
The goal of the West Kootenay Transit Committee has been to develop a transit system for the area where someone can get on a bus in Trail and travel straight through to Castlegar, the Slocan Valley, Nakusp, or Nelson and all points between.
The West Kootenay Transit system incorporates seven different regions currently operating nine different systems into a single entity.
The advantage of the regional system is that pooling the transit resources of many smaller communities reduces the operational cost for all and provides greatly increased convenience for people.
wanting to travel throughout the area without having to use personal vehicles.
The committee, made up of area directors from each of the Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary Regional Districts along with a council representative from the City of Nelson was created to work together to manage resources and funding.