BC Transit’s senior planner Rebecca Newlove revealed a new route option and time table for the Hope to Agassiz bus at the Jan. 23 council meeting.
The new route would connect Silver Creek and Kawkawa Lake to the bus service, costing Hope residents an extra 10 per cent over the original route, which only had one stop in downtown Hope.
The reason for the difference in cost lies in the extra annual service hours, from 2,000 to 2,350. Hence, the cost portion for the District of Hope rises from an estimated $149,500 to $164,300.
That estimate has subtracted the revenue earned from fares, which will be split between the District of Hope and BC Transit. Newlove said they used a conservative $1.55 average fare and 6,500 rides per year to calculate it.
Newlove explained that the new route would allow residents with no vehicle to access the bus service, and that residents could also use this as a local route.
The Province of B.C. pays 47 per cent of the cost, and the new route is contingent on whether the Province will pay the extra costs of the new route.
Newlove explained that when BC Transit submitted their request to the Province last summer — before they did their engagement — they requested it based on the requirements of the original route.
“Depending on the outcome of the provincial budget results in February, we’ll know whether that’s possible or not,” said Newlove.
The long route crosses the railway at Sixth Avenue, which can cause potential delays.
“And so, it’s whether the benefits of serving these communities outweigh those disadvantages,” said Newlove.
Newlove also presented two new options for the bus service. They differ by how early the bus service starts.
BC Transit created a later morning schedule with a goal of taking passengers into Chilliwack via Agassiz around 10:30 a.m. to noon.
This option disallows people who want to use the bus for employment or to attend school, although this meets the engagement’s feedback that people want mid-morning service suited for shopping and recreation.
First Nation bands can join the service by contributing to the revenues.
“We collect money on the revenue side, not on the partner side,” said Fraser Valley Regional District regional programs director Barclay Pitkethly. “We keep them out of the partnership side, so they’re not a local funding partner, because we have no way of taxing them anyway.”
The District will also have to pay for infrastructure such as bus stops, painting and accessibility customizations.
Pitkethly assured that there will be no special taxes such as transit or gas taxes.