Review of Prince Rupert's bus system to begin public consultation phase
BC Transit and the City of Prince Rupert are moving forward with a review of the city’s bus system, which is now starting its public consultation
There are open houses planned to gather public input today at the Friendship House from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and after that at the Ocean Centre Mall until five p.m.
The review started a few months ago and is looking into what changes – if any – should be made to the conventional bus and HandyDART service to reduce inefficiencies, increase convenience for riders and hopefully increase ridership.
“For some time now I’ve been focusing my efforts on various areas trying to make sure the system here is as good as it can be. The purpose of the review is looking for ways to improve an already very good system,” Todd Dupris, BC Transit’s senior regional transit manager, told city council at their meeting last Monday.
So far, the review has consisted of talking to the bus operators, the drivers, the city’s staff, and stakeholder groups. BC Transit has also sent up its own people to ride each of the bus routes for a day to collect valuable data about each one.
What they’ve seen so far, says Dupris, shows that the system works pretty well as it is.
“You have a very good coverage model here in Prince Rupert. The routing is actually very well tailored to the geography of the community so I don’t expect any major route changes, but I do expect some recommendations about a left turn here versus a right turn there, where a bus stop could be moved, where one part of town has too many bus stops while another part of town may not have as many bus stops as required,” said Dupris.
The review process is now moving on to include input from residents who use the bus system or would like to use it more. BC Transit is holding open houses as well as putting out an online and print survey for people to fill out if they have ideas on how to improve the bus
After all the consultations and data gathering are done, BC Transit will take that information, analyze it, and come up with recommendations for changes to the system likely by September. Then a second round of consultation will begin to hear people’s thoughts on the proposed changes.
“The people who use the busses now are generally very, very knowledgeable about what the bus is doing, where it’s going and where it should be going. The drivers will tell you firsthand that their riders tell them all the time about what the busses should be or should not be doing,” said Dupris.
City council had some ideas of their own that they brought up at the meeting.
Some councillors wondered if the busses the City is using are too large as they are often mostly empty, and perhaps should be switched for smaller ones that would save the City on fuel expenses.
Dupris said that while they may be empty at some times of the day, they are packed at other times. Many people in Prince Rupert depend on the busses to get to work and because of the school bus system, Prince Rupert’s students rely on it to get to and from school.
Doing so may keep the busses fuller all day, but more busses would be required to deal with the rush hours which would negate any savings on fuel.
Councillor Joy Thorkelson told Dupris that many residents would like to have the busses run later into the evening to nine or even 11 p.m.
She also said that there is a desire for the busses to run on Sundays, especially before and after church, that workers on Ridley Island would also like a bus that could get them to work, and that perhaps the bus schedule could be tweaked so that busses that go to the fish plants could arrive as the shifts begin and end.
Councillor Anna Ashley suggested that the bus system should include a stop at the recycling depot to make it easier for people to get their recyclables there.
Dupris says that the city can basically have anything it wants, and BC Transit will work out what it will cost, but adding new routes and service times will cost the city more money.