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The Case for Better Transit

We have an update to this story, as of March 25 when Kamloops City Council made their budget decisions. BCSEA Kamloops is delighted to report that the proposed transit enhancements were approved! The decision was just one vote short of being unanimous. Improvements will be effective September 1, 2015: for regular transit there will be 3 new buses and 6000 additional service hours, and for custom transit (HandyDart) there will be 1 new bus and 2500 additional service hours.

We're very proud of our City Council for their vision and dedication to providing a strong transit system. Kamloops leads all BC cities of our size in having the best hours of service, ridership and cost recovery. Council has continued their tradition of making smart transit decisions.

Thank you!

And here's the letter that we submitted prior to the budget decision.

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March 17, 2014

Mayor Milobar and Councillors,

The Kamloops Chapter of the BC Sustainable Energy Association is strongly in favour of expanded conventional and custom transit service for 2015 and we hope you will approve those at your March 25 budget meeting. As you know, we always support transit improvements and this time is no different.

We’d like to see transit improve to the point where it would be a viable option for Kamloops households to cut down on the number of vehicles that they own and operate. For most of us, having one less vehicle in the household is not very hard to do, with a combination of carpooling, transit, cycling and walking. Many of us have taken this step already. Transportation is the average household’s second largest expense (after housing). According to the BCAA, the yearly ownership cost for an average compact car in B.C. is about $9,500 (Note 1). The math is quite startling: if one-quarter of Kamloops households were able to get by with one less vehicle, buying a ProPASS instead, we’d have a savings of $90 million dollars annually! (Note 2) That savings could be spent on better food, housing, recreation and health, and it would go a long way in supporting the local economy and municipal taxes too. Clearly, improving transit helps our economy and quality of life.

Transit has compelling social benefits. More than one-third of our population doesn’t drive, for a variety of reasons (Note 3). With a strong transit system these people can be active participants in our community, getting to work, school and social occasions.

A strong transit system brings a host of co-benefits to a community:

  • Healthier people who exercise as they walk to and from bus stops;
  • Less traffic on the roads: reduced congestion, improved traffic safety, lower road maintenance costs;
  • Cleaner air and reduced healthcare costs;
  • Less expensive infrastructure (less need for road improvements and parking);
  • Reduced energy and greenhouse gases;
  • Improved sense of community with better mobility and social interaction.

 

Improved transit is likely the very best thing we can do to achieve our Sustainable Kamloops goals in energy and greenhouse gas emissions, transportation, air quality, economic development, and health and wellness. Transit helps us to be a resilient community that can still function even if the future brings skyrocketing energy prices or bad economic times.

We were part of the stakeholder advisory group for the Kamloops Transit Future Plan. We look forward to this improvement moving us one step closer to a convenient and easy-to-use transit system. Thanks to previous Councils who approved service enhancements regularly in the past, Kamloops is a leader in BC for our transit ridership. Please continue this tradition and approve the current budget request.

Regards,

Cheryl Kabloona, Chair, Kamloops Chapter, BC Sustainable Energy Association

 

 

 

 

References

 

Note 1: BCAA reports yearly ownership cost for an average compact car in B.C. is about $9500. http://www.bcaa.com/learning-centre/bcaa-newsroom/news-releases/02-25-20...

Note 2: Number of households in Kamloops is 40,810 (2011) http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/fogs-spg/Pages/FOG.cfm?lan... If one-quarter of our households gave up one car (costing $9500 yearly) and bought a ProPASS instead ($528 yearly) we’d save $90 million dollars: 40,810 households x .25 x ($9500 – 528) = $91,536,830

Note 3: Roughly two-thirds of British Columbians have an active driver’s license, so the remaining one-third (or more) do not drive.