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BC Transit “on notice” as Cranbrook explores different, effective public transit options

The City of Cranbrook and BC Transit have repeatedly signed operating agreements for conventional and custom transit services in the community, but now the City wants to make sure they are getting the best value possible.

This week, BC Transit and Trail Transit signed a nine-year contract, valued at $8.2-million for the first three years. The contract means Trail Transit will now operate all public transit service in the East Kootenay.

Mark Fercho, Cranbrook’s Chief Administrative Officer, spoke to MyEastKootenayNow.com after the announcement. He said that decision doesn’t directly impact the community. However, the CAO did say they are working with BC Transit on what form of public transit makes the most sense for Cranbrook moving forward.

“It doesn’t affect anything with the City of Cranbrook at this point. We are a customer of BC Transit so who they have selected to operate the transit service isn’t really a concern of Cranbrook’s. What we are working on with BC Transit is our agreement,” explained Fercho.

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“City taxpayers spend $800,000 a year to provide transit services in Cranbrook, to move residents around and we want to review how is the best way to do that. Whether it’s the current system that is in place now, or if there’s other ways of moving residents around with or without BC Transit, is under review. We are working with BC Transit, but we are looking at sort of all options.”

Cranbrook and BC Transit sign an annual operating agreement for the Crown Corporation to provide public transit for the community. The same is true for Kimberley and communities in the Elk Valley, Columbia Valley, Creston Valley and across the rest of British Columbia. With communities being customers of BC Transit, there are no direct relationships with the operating partner. That means the decision for Trail Transit to now provide service to the entire East Kootenay doesn’t directly relate to Cranbrook’s ongoing concerns with BC Transit as a whole.

PREVIOUS: BC Transit switching operators for all public transit services in the East Kootenay (March 4, 2021)

“They’ve signed a multi-year agreement and it’s their liability on how they have structured that for the long term,” Fercho told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “We’ve put BC Transit on notice that we would like to review the service in Cranbrook and we intend to do so in 2021.”

At this time, Fercho said they are actively engaged with BC Transit to move ahead with that process.

“We intend to have some change. Just to be clear, there will be changes in Cranbrook on how we move people around using that $800,000 of taxpayer money to ensure that it’s used in the best way.”

A review of that service is underway, with the City of Cranbrook expected to make a decision on its public transit provider in the coming months. Fercho said they do not intend to re-sign an annual operating agreement with BC Transit until they discuss and address the City’s concerns. The majority of those concerns stem from the $800,000 the City pays to BC Transit despite lower ridership and adoption of public transit in the community.

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