The Regional District of East Kootenay is taking a different approach to the proposed Columbia Valley Transit service expansion after new information has surfaced.
According to RDEK officials, an increase in assessed values in the Columbia Valley will allow more funding to be dedicated to the expansion. This means there may be room to include services such as weekend routes, or the possibility of a commuter model.
“We recognize the current service levels aren’t meeting the needs of residents and we remain committed to looking at ways to both improve access to the service and increase ridership,” said Columbia Valley Services Committee Chair Clara Reinhardt.
RDEK staff said the original proposal would require a tax increase for the service, allowing the increase in revenue to offset the cost of expanding.
“Over the past few months, new information has come to light which has caused us to take a step back and re-evaluate what an expanded service could look like,” said Reinhardt.
The RDEK also noted that a review of transit routes through the Columbia Valley also highlighted the lack of poles and signs at bus stops. Work is underway to add more signs.
Additionally, the provincial government announced that essential service levels will be maintained, with limited expansions for 2022/2023. It is unknown if they will support expansions in 2023.
“When we looked at all these factors, we recognized that the best way to move forward was to ask staff and BC Transit to re-evaluate the proposed significant service expansion and report back to the Board with a list of potential options to move forward in new ways with cost-neutral changes that will meaningfully improve service for the public,” said Reinhardt.
RDEK officials say representatives from BC Transit will meet with the board in May to discuss the options further. The earliest a modified service expansion could come about is 2023.