As it enters its seventh year of service, it seems as though the local community bus service has finally left its growing pains behind.
“It’s been a good year,” said Ashcroft Chief Administrative Officer Michelle Allen.
The BC Transit began in January 2008 among Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Clinton.
At some point, unanounced, Interior Health’s bus became part of the partnership, and Cache Creek opted out of the service in 2013 citing rising costs. Last summer, TNRD’s Area I stepped in as a partner.
Having Area I as a partner, she says, means that service is provided to the Ashcroft Indian Band and Bonaparte Indian Band.
The first operator was a challenge, said Allen. A new operator – Yellowhead Community Services based in Clearwater – took over last April.
The service has replaced its old buses with two new buses – the local bus and Health Connections bus that travels from Lillooet to Kamloops.
And fuel prices are under $1 per litre which makes for lower travel costs.
“Unprecedented low fuel costs, new buses and a new operator” have combined to make it a very good year for the service. Add to that, ridership and revenues for buses are up..
The Health Connections bus travels from Lillooet to Kamloops, while the local bus makes its regular run between Ashcroft and Clinton, travels to Kamloops on Mondays and makes stops in Area I but users have to call ahead.
Over 1,400 people rode the local bus in 2014, with the bulk of the ridership using it to travel between Ashcroft and Clinton for non medical purposes.
Allen says that anything left over in the 2014 budget will be put into a reserve fund to cover unexpected costs in future years.
It just all came together this year, she said. “Everybody’s in their groove.”