When Summerland’s scheduled transit service was introduced in late October, few expected the strong positive response this service has received.
Officials at B.C. Transit have seen a high level of ridership in the new service, with numbers closer to the use seen in communities with older, more established bus service.
This response is despite a limited schedule. The bus service operates during the day Monday to Friday, with no evening, weekend or holiday service.
When a service is in demand to this degree, it is time to consider whether the service should be expanded and if so, what changes are needed.
From the beginning, the need for evening and weekend service has been discussed.
Some have also suggested schedule changes, since they have not been able to make the existing timetable work for their needs.
B.C. Transit officials have been asking for community feedback about the existing bus service. Later, the transit agency will make some recommendations to the municipality. However, it is up to the municipality to determine how the service will operate.
While the service has proved popular, it is important to remember that a portion of the cost comes from the municipal budget. The full amount of this cost will be known after a study of the first year of transit service is completed. Earlier, when the service was introduced, the municipality’s cost was estimated at $48,000 to $54,000 a year.
If the service is to expand, it will require a larger contribution from the municipality. The municipality’s contribution will come from tax dollars.
Balancing the public’s desire for an expanded service with the cost to the public will prove challenging.
If Summerlanders want an expanded bus service, it will come at a cost. If the goal is to avoid tax increases, service increases would be unlikely.