A delegation from the Para-Transit Committee appeared before Cache Creek Council at its meeting on March 7, to make a presentation about the Community Bus and encourage Council to consider rejoining the program. The Village made the decision to leave the service three years ago.
Jack Kehoe, Executive Director of Yellowhead Community Services (YCS, which operates the bus service), Ashcroft Councillor Al Mertens, and Clinton Councillor Wayne Marchant invited Cache Creek to once more take part in the program. Kehoe detailed the many changes to the bus service since YCS took it over almost three years ago, pointing out that they have been able to make many efficiencies in the service, which have reduced the operating costs.
The buses serve a number of local communities, including Ashcroft, Boston Flats, Clinton, Lillooet, Lytton, Spences Bridge, and Walhachin, with three runs to Kamloops each week for medical appointments. The service costs $5.00 each way, and is available to everyone.
YCS also operates a HandyDART bus service in Clinton and Ashcroft on Wednesdays and Fridays, with the bus available for anyone who wants to use it to get around town, whether it be for shopping, appointments, or visiting friends. The fare is $2.00 per trip, with the bus providing door-to-door service.
“We get a lot of questions from Cache Creek residents, asking why the bus doesn’t stop there,” says Mertens. “We have to tell them that it’s out of our hands.”
The Village of Ashcroft pays $15,000 per year to be part of the service, while Clinton pays $12,500. Kehoe pointed out there is usually a surplus at the end of each year, which goes into the capital reserve to help fund new buses when the time comes.
Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said that the Village could not afford $12,500 to be part of the service this year. He also wanted to know what the ridership figures were, noting that when members of Cache Creek Council rode the bus to Clinton several years ago they were the only ones on it.
“We’re looking at options to provide a service from Cache Creek to Ashcroft,” said Ranta, noting the Village does need some transit system. However, he added that “The bus cost might be hard for us to swallow if there’s no interest from Cache Creek residents. It may be better for us to invest $15,000 in a taxi service rather than put money in a bus system people won’t use.” He also mentioned the possibility of the Village buying a minivan and having a member of staff, or even himself, drive it.
Mertens pointed out that the comments about low ridership several years ago were not really fair, in light of improvements to the service since then. Marchant and Kehoe also noted that the bus is available for rental after hours, and is heavily utilized by area groups. “It’s very popular with seniors’ and youth groups and service clubs,” said Kehoe, while Marchant said the bus is used all weekend in Clinton during the rodeo, to transport people.
Kehoe also said that if Cache Creek were to rejoin the system, YCS would look to see it was possible to offer the HandyDART service there as well.
Councillor Herb Hofer raised concerns about who would be responsible for purchasing new buses when the time came to replacement the current ones. Mertens replied that the participating communities did not have to pay for the current buses, but that it was not certain who would be responsible in future.
Councillor David Dubois moved that Staff inquire into the ridership figures and report back to Council at a future date.