Clearwater and area’s transit system generally works well but could be improved by changes to routes, schedules and fares.
That’s according to an interim transit service review presented to town council on Sept. 20.
Ridership on the system is about where is should be considering the level of service provided and the land use and population density patterns in the area, BC Transit representatives Levi Megenbir and Corey McPherson told council.
However, the fixed route service connecting Vavenby, Clearwater and Blackpool is split into six different routes, making it challenging for the public to understand.
This makes it difficult for new riders to use the system and for existing riders to use it in new ways.
Another problem has been that the buses on the fixed route service sometimes run late.
The handyDART service in Clearwater provides door-to-door serves for passengers with mobility challenges that are unable to use the fixed-route system.
One shortcoming is that vehicles are available for the handiDART service only a limited number of hours per day.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays a bus provides a fixed route service between the Clearwater area and Kamloops. This Valley Connector works well but would require substantial ridership growth before capacity becomes an issue.
A community loop pilot project generated only an average ridership of two rides per trip with little or no ridership from Wyndhaven, Sunshine Valley or Blackpool.
Some of the loop trips conflicted with the pre-existing Vavenby and Blackpool trips, resulting in a duplication of service.
Funding for the loop project was approved directly the Minister of Transportation and BC Transit had not role in planning or implementing the service, the BC Transit reps noted.
They recommended integrating the loop into the transit system and streamlining it to focus on key destinations and higher ridership areas.
The review also recommends simplifying the fare system. At present there are three zones, with fares of $1.50, $2 and $2.50, depending on how many zones are crossed. Instead, there would be a flat fare of $2.
Other suggestions include simplifying the riders’ guide and signage, improving the routing maps, changing the electronic signs in the front of the buses to show route, direction and type of service (for example, handyDART), ensuring there are bike racks on all buses, and adopting service standard and performance guidelines.
The review notes that with an aging population, transit is likely to become more important.
It recommends further public consultation before implementing any major changes such as those in the report.
Top inset: Map shows proposed bus route that would connect Greer with Blackpool
Below: Map shows proposed simplified bus loop connecting from near Raft River School with Brookfield Mall.