Kitimat’s contribution to the Skeena connector, the public transit bus that runs between Kitamaat Village, Kitimat and Terrace on weekdays, will go up due to lower contributions from Northern Health.
Northern Health, still a significant contributor to the bus route, pitches in to the service as it’s a stop-gap measure to get patients to Terrace for appointments in the absence of the Northern Health Connector bus which runs along Highway 16.
Instead of $140,000 as they have in the past, this year that number is going to $80,000.
Northern Health communications spokesperson Jonathon Dyck says Northern Health was looking to distribute transportation funding across their region more equitably. Notice was given to participant communities in the transportation plan in 2013 that this change was happening to give places a chance to adjust.
He said while the bus operators do track ridership Northern Health didn’t have a specific number of riders who use the service for health purposes.
This topic came up as Kitimat’s Chief Administrative Officer Warren Waycheshen gave councillors an overview of aspects of the 2016 municipal budget.
Kitimat’s contribution to the Skeena route is going from $25,000 to $42,000, a 10 per cent increase.
The total cost of the Skeena bus service is $420,000, he said.
The subject did have Larry Walker wondering if there’s a way to begin offering airport stops for the bus service.
The subject has come up before under the previous council. There were issues such as the impact to Thornhill such a change would involve, as the bus services that community as they are a contributor to its cost.
Waycheshen said BC Transit buses also aren’t properly equipped to store people’s luggage and adjustments to the bus layout would be needed to allow for that.
But bottom line such an addition to the service really does come down to cost and what the partners want to contribute to such a service, he said.
Kitimat’s total B.C. Transit cost for town is also rising, from approximately $534,000 to $588,000.
That’s due to changes in B.C. Transit’s own funding set up. In the past the organization would charge Kitimat for the actual usage of the bus, but now they want to charge a full rate, but take any unused expense and put it into reserve funds to prepare for any major maintenance fees in future years.
While Kitimat’s system has so far been safe from any drastic problems with its transit vehicles the silver lining to this change in funding is that it can stabilize the price year to year. (As in, no unexpectedly high bills due to the reserves.)