By Holly Fraughton
Transit was a popular topic at Monday’s SLRD meeting, with board members approving an assortment of initiatives with the hope they will pave the way for a new regional transit service which would operate from Squamish to Lillooet.
Chief administrator for the SLRD, Paul Edgington, explained staff members are trying to create a regional transit planning service and are applying for $1,191,531 for transit infrastructure.
“It would be our intention to do things like build park and rides, bus pullouts, those types of things, in support of transit,” Edgington said.
The money would not be used to purchase additional buses, or for operational funding.
“I guess the analogy would be, as you build a road for a car, we’re building facilities for buses.”
The funds would come from the federal-provincial gas tax grant program, established between federal government and UBCM.
Edgington explained that the funds have been set aside for the SLRD, but staff needed the board’s approval to apply for the funds. They plan to send off the completed application before the end of the year.
The motions passed at Monday’s meeting won’t change the existing Pemberton Valley Transit Service to a regional transit authority, though that may come later.
“We’re keeping the existing authorities in place and what we’re doing is creating just a separate service for the purpose of building infrastructure and bus stops and accessing the money that is potentially available to us.”
The report also made mention of acquiring smaller commuter buses rather than large buses and starting a scheduled service from one end of the regional district to the other.
Pemerton Mayor Jordan Sturdy says he is happy to hear there will be improvements to public transit throughout the corridor.
“I would very much like to see a public transit system that was enhanced and that encouraged people to get out of their vehicles. It’s really challenging to use public transit in this corridor to do anything more than one-off trips,” Sturdy said.
“If there was an increased frequency of buses at a reasonable cost, I think it would add to our sustainability options and our objectives and really provide some alternatives.”
But he isn’t entirely sold on the idea of replacing the existing Pemberton Valley Transit Service with a regional transit authority, and says he would like to see how the power would be distributed.
“If we were to move to the regional model, would we have the same opportunity to affect details of the system, or would we lose some of the control from our own system to that of a regional system?”