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City takes driver’s seat in delivering transit in Central Kootenay

The City of Nelson will provide the service
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Transit service has a municipal provider. (File photo)

 Timothy Schafer

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Rural transit service in the regional district will now be delivered by a municipal provider.

The City of Nelson has stepped into a contract to provide the rural transit service in the West Kootenay Transit System.

Based on “years of demonstrated ability to provide exceptional customer service,” the City was awarded the contract, allowing a better alignment of transit services in the region and the potential for service continuity.

Despite the change of operating companies — replacing NextGen Transit that had operated for the last three years — transit service in the West Kootenay region will not be impacted by the move.

The flowing routes will be brought under the City’s service: North Shore; Blewett; Perrier ; Slocan Valley; Nakusp-Hot Springs; Nakusp-Playmor; Nakusp-Edgewood; Kaslo; Kaslo Argenta; Salmo-Nelson; Nakusp-Nelson; Kaslo-Nelson; and Kootenay Connector.

 

Connecting B.C.

A 10-year plan for public transit was presented earlier this year by the Province, calling for $22.2 billion in capital investment over the next decade.

That figure did not include the $1.5 billion per year for operations necessary to achieve the vision. In the current provincial budget there is a $13.5 billion transit capital and $300 million for operations.

The 10-year plan includes a path to make transit affordable, accessible, inclusive, carbon-zero and a seamless experience for users across the province.

The plan will include a province-wide express bus service and a “much improved local service,” integrated with ride-hailing services, effectively doubling the number of buses within five years.

The HandyDART service would be increased and upgraded to electric buses, while the free transit service — now offered to children up to 12 years in age — would be extended to youth up to 18 years old and those on social assistance.

In addition, the plan is expected to call for the elimination of privatized service, most of which BC Transit currently contracts out to across B.C.