Public transportation was steered onto this week's Kitimat council agenda
Public transportation was steered onto this week's council agenda in Kitimat. Recent bus route cuts and adjustments that had been announced by BC Transit have raised serious concerns. With the influx of labour coming into the community for the LNG Canada project, the need for public transportation is growing. Kitimat Mayor, Phil Germuth says with the growing number of residents, any reduction in bus services is an ongoing concern.
"So basically, the staffing issue with the new provider. Obviously, this is a major inconvenience to many people. You know, sorry it happened like this; it is unfortunate the contract was just renewed recently. I'm guessing BC transit didn't put in there, you know we all knew this project was coming, of course, it's going to bring challenges. I guess maybe more attention could have been paid by BC transit to take a look at the situation in Kitimat and see whoever was rewarded the contract, how are they going to deal with the potential that you know, we got a lot of things going on around town and how are you going to manage to keep employees. I think they just went for the lowest bid. Well, now, here we are."
BC Transit indicated that the reason for adjustments to the bus routes is the contractor's inability to provide sufficient staffing.
"Hopefully, they are going to be able to figure it out. They have some options of what they can do, but they are working hard with Pacific Western transit trying to address the staffing shortages. As soon as the situation changes, of course, we will provide some updates, but we do realize this is a major inconvenience to many people who rely on the transit service. I think almost every route is affected at certain times, but if people have any questions on specific routes, to make sure they can call 250-632-4449."
A recent proposal, made by the council, was the set-up of a pilot project that would provide free public transportation to children under the age of 18. Mayor Germuth is hopeful it won't be impacted.
"We are going to have to wait and see. We discussed that last night a bit, but we will have to see how that will play out down the road."
Even though the staffing issue was supposed to be resolved by now, city staff are continuing to keep tabs on its progress. The Mayor remains hopeful that this is a temporary adjustment, and the bus routes will be returned to essential service.