Saturday bus to Castlegar and beyond rolls out March 21

Saturday shoppers without a set of wheels can catch a bus to Castlegar and on to Nelson beginning March 21.

Saturday shoppers without a set of wheels can catch a bus to Castlegar and on to Nelson beginning March 21.

The BC Transit service includes three Saturday runs from Cedar Ave. and Spokane St. in downtown Trail at 8:50 a.m., 12:34 p.m. and 5:10 p.m.

The 98 Columbia Connector will make stops along the highway in Rivervale, Fairview and Blueberry as well as Tempo Gas in Genelle, before arriving at the Castlegar Community Complex at 9:17 a.m., 1:01 p.m. and 5:37 p.m.

From there, the trip continues as the 33 to Selkirk College. At the college campus, further connections are available to the Playmor Junction and Nelson on the 99 Kootenay Connector at 9:36 a.m., 1:20 p.m. and 5:59 p.m.

For those wishing a round trip, the last Saturday bus departs Nelson at Ward and Baker Streets at 5:07, then from the Castlegar complex at 6:05 p.m., arriving in downtown Trail at 6:34 p.m.

More information on the routes, and other ridership details are available on the BC Transit website, www.bctransit.com/west-kootenay.

According to BC Transit‘s 2014 summary, there’s been an overall regional increase of 2.6 per cent in ridership, and an increase in bus passes especially on the connector routes.

Decisions about fares, routes and service levels are made by local governments based on recommendations by the West Kootenay Transit committee (made up of local government representatives), public feedback and information provided by BC Transit.

The weekend service became available after members of the East End Services agreed to add 230 hours and the new line with a $12,000 bump in cash last fall.

“For the West Kootenay Transit Committee, it has been a progressive process of trying to meet the needs of our region,” said Lawrence Chernoff, committee chair and Castlegar mayor. “Partnering with BC Transit, we were able to establish transit service of Saturdays to connect the West Kootenay communities.”

The future of public transit across B.C. is under provincial review and a key strategy in the government’s climate action agenda.

When people choose public transportation over using a vehicle for travel, transit services can provide a range of benefits, such as reduced road congestion and lower greenhouse gas emission.

That Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released a provincial transit plan in 2008, aimed at substantially expanding public transit provide-wide by 2020. though a recent audit revealed it is falling short of its goal.

The province has since launched a web-based resource called “Shaping Transit’s Future in British Columbia,” aimed to raise public awareness about the transit system and the challenges it faces.

Another provincial incentive called BC on the Move: A Ten Year Transportation Plan has been engaging communities in a consultation period since last fall.

The 10-year provincial plan encompasses all transportation networks from walking and cycling routes to transit, highways and services for those with disabilities. Aging infrastructure, environmental impacts, evolving travel choices and highway safety will be addressed in the new plan that is slated to be made public this spring.

A series of short-, medium- and longer-term priorities will focus on: moving goods and people safely and reliably; growing the economy; connecting and strengthening communities; and maximizing collaboration and investment with partners in regional and local governments, First Nations, and the private sector.