Greater Trail transit changes put service woes right

Transit services in the Greater Trail region have rebounded this year with more riders and revenue.

Transit services in the Greater Trail region have rebounded this year with more riders and revenue after being dealt a blow in the last year, according to new figures recently released by BC Transit.

Although the total cost per ride in the Kootenay Boundary Transit System rose by 16.8 per cent over the last year—while ridership dropped 1.9 per cent and revenue was down 4.8 per cent—revenue recorded in the new season has increased an average of 19 per cent each month.

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary chair Larry Gray said improving the number of corridor trips to Castlegar and Nelson was the reason for the increase, based on BC Transit data available from April to July.

The new runs—already integrated into the new regional transit service—connect regional routes so people don’t have to change busses so many times, said Gray.

“From a political perspective, yes, we were concerned,” he said about the drop last year. “But it meant we were looking to how we could improve the service to the whole area. The new transit plan looks at the whole area as one unit, instead of having nine systems, and will find ways to have a more efficient and effective service.”

The corridor routes represent “progression towards implementation,” he added.

In March commuter-friendly and late evening service was introduced in the Greater Trail region, with more trips during the workday along the corridor and Friday late night runs on the most populated routes.

People slowly embraced the new changes, with a 2.2 per cent jump in ridership in April, while revenue crept by 11.4 per cent to $8,646. Ridership jumped by 6.3 per cent to 17,211 in May, while revenue surged ahead by 27.9 per cent over last year.

Although ridership dropped by 6.3 per cent in June (while revenue rose 2.5 per cent), it rebounded with a 20.2 per cent jump in July (11,467 riders) and a huge 33.6 per cent increase in revenue over last year ($8,441).

The changes were a direct result of input BC Transit received from the customers in the area. The extension of service hours on routes three, six and nine made transit more appealing to commuters. Plus route nine included a stop at Chances Casino.

The regional committee is expected to further unite service between Nelson, Trail, Castlegar, Kaslo, Nakusp and the Slocan Valley, creating the venue for transit service providers to share common problems and come up with solutions, make sure systems are all interconnected, easy to navigate and combine resources.

The committee still has fine tuning of schedule timing, transit connector points, and an equitable fare left.

More information on the Kootenay Regional Transit System can be found at www.bctransit.com.

The year that was

According to an annual performance summary released by BC Transit for the April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012, operating period, total costs per ride in the region had jumped $1.15, from $6.83 to $7.97.

The same report showed total revenue for the service dipped 1.9 per cent from $301,018 in 2010/11 to $295,209 in 2011/12, with 4.8 per cent fewer revenue passengers (300,551 to 286,190).

Rides per hour decreased by five per cent over the previous year.

However, at the same time that revenue and ridership were dropping, the total operating costs per hour for transit increased 12 per cent over last year.

Actual total costs—total operating costs plus vehicles and facility costs—were two per cent below the budgeted costs.

“At the time, those figures were a cause for concern,” Gray admitted.

The total hours of service delivered dropped by 2.6 per cent—the hours in which the service earned income—from 2,505 hours in 2010/11 to 2,439 hours in 2011/12.

The percentage of trips completed was 99.82 per cent, down slightly form the 99.89 per cent recorded the previous year—a .07 change.

Route usage

The number three route to Glenmerry and Fruitvale accounted for over half of the ridership for the Kootenay Boundary Transit System in the last year.

At 51.6 per cent, the popular route was the most used, with the Glenmerry and Fruitvale combined run alone being the most used at 21.6 per cent.

Rossland’s route (number six) was the second most utilized at 19.4 per cent, with Glenmerry (number three) at 17.6 per cent.

Fruitvale accounted for 12.5 per cent of the rides, while the trek to Castlegar (number nine) made up 9.4 per cent. Sunningdale (number 4) was 8.5 per cent, Binns (number one) was 3.5 per cent and Teck (number five) was 2.9 per cent.

Columbia Heights (number two) at two per cent, Tadanac (number seven) at 1.6 per cent, and Red Mountain (number eight) at .6 per cent completed the route round up.

Red Mountain request

The City of Rossland and Red Mountain Resort have petitioned the regional district to expand transit service to Red Mountain.

The request is not a new one, said regional district chief administrative officer John MacLean.

“Trying to offer efficient service to an area that likely only really needs it for part of the year is very challenging,” he said.

“At this time we are trying to achieve service to Red Mountain without incurring any additional cost to the service.”

Discussions have been held between BC Transit and Rossland on how the service can be achieved. MacLean said the current discussion was around using hours that already serve Rossland to serve Red Mountain through a deviation in the bus route.

MacLean noted that any changes must meet the requirements of making timely connections in the routes being developed between Trail and Nelson.