City council not ready to hop on bus
For years, any time BC Transit has offered Kamloops more hours of bus service, the city has been happy to accept them.
But, as city council heads into budget discussions, politicians want to take a closer look at the recent offer by the Crown corporation.
BC Transit has offered 8,197 conventional transit-service hours, along with another 2,000 custom hours for the HandyDART, to be split with the Tk’emlups Indian Band.
Council approved 2,500 hours in the 2011 budget, but that was held back upon completion of the Kamloops Transit Future Plan, which was done last fall.
Whether council agrees to take the hours remains up in the air, as it agreed to add the item to a list of budget items to be discussed at public meetings later this month.
Coun. Donovan Cavers urged his colleagues to approve at least 6,500 hours of new service minimum, arguing the extra hours would have huge benefits to the sustainability goals of the city.
Other councillors expressed doubts taxpayers could afford the extra cost.
Mayor Peter Milobar said the issue comes down to what the city can afford, noting new service hours need to be added strategically.
“Service will never be as good as a car,” he said.
The estimated total net cost for the increased service, including debt and servicing vehicles, would be $675,000 a year.
The cost for 2012 would be $223,000, based on a September start.
BC Transit’s offer also includes 3,450 hours of service for the TIB, which would be paid for by the band.
Council approved a motion to have staff work with BC Transit and the TIB to have the band’s service hours included into the city’s operating agreement.
The city’s transit budget includes an additional $647,000 in 2012 and $520,000 in 2013 to meet increasing costs for the level of service now provided.
Evening public budget meetings are scheduled for Feb. 28, March 6 and March 13 at Interior Savings Centre.
In 2009, the city worked with BC Transit to add an additional 10,000 annual hours of service.
However, in the end, the city received an additional 4,000 hours from the Crown corporation.