Bob Brown displays a BC transit map that clearly outlines the gap in bus service between Fruitvale and Salmo.

Bob Brown displays a BC transit map that clearly outlines the gap in bus service between Fruitvale and Salmo.

Fruitvale senior seeks change to bus route

A 20-minute trip to visit family and long-time friends in Salmo has turned into a four-hour excursion for Fruitvale’s Bob Brown.

A 20-minute trip to visit family and long-time friends in Salmo has turned into a four-hour excursion for Fruitvale’s Bob Brown.

The 77-year-old, known in the community as Brownie, recently lost his driver’s licence.

So when he chose to make the jaunt to Salmo by bus, the Beaver Valley Manor resident was met with a circuitous journey through Trail, Castlegar, Playmor Junction and Nelson, before BC Transit’s wheels ever hit the village’s turf.

“I have been introduced to a new way of life,” he said. “After 61 years my doctor sent a letter to the Motor Vehicle Branch,” explained Brown. “With my present eyesight I could not drive safely and was thus introduced to the new upgraded transit system.”

Historically, there has never been a bus route available on the 26-kilometre stretch of highway between Fruitvale and Salmo, and calling a cab would be a wallet-busting $75 one-way ride.

The shortest distance between all six communities is 132 km but allowing for additional diversions through the route’s drop-off points, the distance grows meaning further delays and time added to Brownie’s destination.

The current Kootenay Connector line runs two days, Tuesday and Thursday, on the final leg between Nelson and Salmo, and the regional service is only available if travel arrangements are secured in advance.

“There is only one trip in the morning and one in the afternoon on those days,” confirmed Meribeth Burton, BC Transit spokesperson. “This gentleman certainly raises an excellent point because by the time he gets there, he might only have time for a 15-minute visit before heading back out on the journey home.”

In addition to Brownie’s visual impairment, is a complete loss of hearing that further renders the multiple transit connections a burden to the soft-spoken retired contractor.

He contends that after living and driving the distance for decades, when abiding by the speed limit meant “see you in 16 or 17 minutes,” the lack of connectivity between the close-knit communities is perplexing.

“I am not interested in a long trip with miles and miles of scenery,” he said. “We have one of the best roads in our area that is flat and reasonably straight and minutes away. But not even the Handy Dart will give rides from Fruitvale to Salmo.”

Geographically there could be a better way to connect but the ridership now only supports the twice a week service, said Burton.

“If we have an audience and a ridership that is interested we want to provide convenient service,” she said, adding, “It happens in every community. If you have ridership and they appeal to their elected officials then that is how coverage expands and grows.”

One person taking Brownie’s lack of direct transport to heart is Ann Henderson, the three-term Mayor of Salmo.

“We’ve known each other a long time and I am going to submit Brownie’s letter of concern and have a talk with Randy Matheson (transit coordinator) at the regional district,” she confirmed after Nov. 26 council. “They’ve told me eventually there will be transit here,” said Henderson. “Hans Cunningham (Area G director) and I fought to get the additional Tuesday bus because people were being left behind,” she said. “Tonight (Monday) I signed a resolution to amalgamate the health connectors. Now we are asking, ‘Where’s our bus?’”

There is some affirmative news coming out of BC Transit because Phase 2 of the West Kootenay Transit plan includes the possibility of a bus line between the neighbouring communities, although the initiative is a few years away.

“The next phase is scheduled from 2016 to 2020, with a concept of rural connectivity which would include Salmo and Fruitvale,” said Burton. “It is part of the transit’s future plan.”

In addition to improved rural connectivity the second phase is based on improving ridership on the highest travelled corridors and to connect outlying communities to neighbouring communities, with new services implemented in areas where commuting potential exists.

“I cannot believe this enormous gap in service between Fruitvale and Salmo,” said Brownie. “The two communities have been closely associated for over a hundred years. And with Salmo building a senior’s complex, if you don’t drive, you will have to take up hitchhiking.”

Just Posted

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

A wildfire near Cottonwood Lake was put out by Nelson firefighters Sunday night. Photo: Submitted
Wildfire extinguished near Cottonwood Lake

Lightning-caused fire was near one of Nelson’s water sources

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read