Cranbrook to continue BC Transit services, but considering independent options – Cranbrook Daily Townsman
Cranbrook City Council has approved an annual operating agreement with BC Transit to provide local transit services through 2023, as part of a local system review and reflection on moving to options on demand.
the review, which is led by an independent contract analyst from BC Transit, was driven by preconceptions that empty buses were running around town, identifying inefficiencies in the system and justifying the rising cost of providing fixed route services.
While the analyst drew a number of conclusions in an effort to provide options to the council, the review also highlighted the complexity of the city’s transit issues.
“Make no mistake, the local bus operator and the Cranbrook bus drivers are doing a great job,” said Mark Fercho, general manager of the Town of Cranbrook, at the end of a presentation to council.
“The efficiency with which they operate the bus service at Cranbrook would be hard to beat. They do a great job of operating the system efficiently.
“The problem is the interface between the system and the customer and meeting customer needs at Cranbrook, and that’s not their job. Their job is to get the buses to run as efficiently as possible, and they do. The work of knowing where the routes go, where the stops are, all of this rests on the shoulders of BC Transit. “
A key finding from the analysts report is that on-demand transit services are applicable in Cranbrook, as a way to replace underperforming routes and provide a personalized transit option.
Additionally, the review also found that Cranbrook does not have a transit service standard, a document that sets out the service contract between the city and its customers, as well as the decision-making framework for budget decisions and at surface level.
BC Transit has completed two reviews of the system in the past decade, but a new review is currently pending as the organization uses Cranbrook as a case study for a provincial framework on delivering on-demand transit services. .
There is no timeline for the final review to be completed and BC Transit is not committed to implementing on-demand service in the city, according to a staff report.
BC Transit is the provincial organization that provides transit systems to municipalities in British Columbia through third party operators.
In Cranbrook, BC Transit designed the route network, but the city has limited influence over unilateral changes as it is managed by BC Transit and operated by a third-party contractor.
If the city divorces the BC Transit system and switches to its own third-party provider, it would lose subsidized provincial funding, which covers just over half of the city’s transit costs.
For the current year of operation, the total transportation costs between fixed and custom transit services (handyDART) in Cranbrook are budgeted at $ 2.1 million, with the city’s share of costs rising to $ 894,200.
This translates into a city’s share of costs of $ 62.40 per hour of service for fixed route transit and $ 31 per hour for custom transit service.
Currently, the city has eight routes that run throughout the week. Analysis of the previous route shows that Route 1 (which bypasses Walmart and Tamarack Mall) and Route 5 (which has stops near Mount Baker High School, Regional Hospital of East Kootenay and College of the Rockies) are the best performing routes in terms of ridership.
The analysis also offered optimization options, such as hiring a transit coordinator to work with BC Transit and find system savings, or a hybrid option where BC Transit operates some routes, while A third party hired by the city offers personalized options on demand.
While the city will receive the analyst’s report, a decision will be made in the near future on whether to use the same consultant to further investigate some of the issues identified.
Next steps potentially include participating in the BC commissioned feasibility study and considering public engagement over the winter months to assess perceptions of the existing system, gaps in services, community priorities and appetite for personalized transit services.