Province identifies transportation as a major rural issue, but little more than small scale patches promised — Nelson Transit Action
The Nelson Transit Action group is voicing its concern following recent comments by BC Premier David Eby during an open a public forum held recently in Oliver.
Premier Eby opened the forum addressing three rural BC faces — health care, transportation and transportation to health care.
The Nelson Transit Action said the Premier was a little light on solutions to these issues adding earlier this year the Province spent $2.5 million for transit and studies on ground transportation in three rural BC regions including the Southern Interior and the reports came out recently.
The Nelson Transit Action said the Southern Interior report identified dozens of communities with zero or limited bus service of less than three days per week and the complete absence of bus services is a serious problem but so is buses that are too infrequent or unreliable.
“The government spent thousands of dollars to tell us what is well-known about the inadequacy of public transportation in the interior of BC,” says Keith Wiley from the Nelson Transit Action group said in a media statement.
“It’s clear that substantial public investment in transportation is essential, and the tweaks and patches suggested by the report are far from enough to fix the problems,” Wiley added.
The Nelson Transit Action said the report does suggest the province “expand funding for BC Transit” which is the obvious crucial step.
“The Premier correctly identified a key weakness in transportation to health services,” said Wiley.
“Regionalizing health services and expecting people to drive hundreds of kilometres saved the authorities money, but cost patients far more,” he said.
Wiley said health authorities are spending thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on subsidizing infrequent bus services.”
“That’s money that is needed for nurses, doctors and health services, Wiley said.
“Public transit is also an essential service our governments should always be providing.”
The Transit Action group points out that rural BC has been calling for major improvements for years with the September meeting of the Union of BC Municipalities again supported calls for major provincial investment in rural transit including the City of Nelson’s motion to provide enough funding to double rural bus services.
“A full public inter-city bus network is an essential component of a modern transportation system, and it should be a priority in BC,” said Wiley, on behalf of the Action Group.
Nelson Transit Action and others have been hearing from the public that a good, affordable, public inter-city coach service is on almost everyone’s must-have list.
Significant investment in public transit will lower travel costs for everyone and make it much easier for patients to get to vital services.
The Transit Action group also points out that a full transit network is an essential step to help the province meet Clean BC climate targets which depend on a targeted 25% reduction in private vehicle trips by 2030.
Public pressure is mounting for a major boost in public transit across BC. The campaign at NelsonPublicTransitAction.ca is part of that push.