Credit has to go to the delegations that stood up in front of Vernon city council Monday and made the case for expanded transit.
And certainly there is merit to the concept of extending the service from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily to reflect the employment and social needs of the community.
“Buses don’t run on holidays and they don’t run long on Sundays,” said resident Winnifred Hibbert, who collected 3,191 names on a petition seeking more transit.
“We want the working crowd to get to work.”
But the challenge is one of dollars and cents.
The net 2013 budget for transit is $1.2 million — which is already a significant sum of cash coming from city taxpayers (as well as Coldstream and B.C. Transit).
Every time a new bus is needed or drivers are hired, the cost goes up even further.
And the two delegations Monday aren’t the only ones who have turned to the city for additional service. Residents in the Foothills subdivision have been asking for transit for years and there is certainly a need on Middleton Mountain. There also never seems to be enough buses going down the highway to the University of B.C.
It’s highly likely that expanding routes and adding new pickup times will encourage people to park their vehicles at home and hop on the bus, which will positively impact the bottom line. But transit, just as with any public service, will never make a profit. A taxpayer subsidy will always be needed.
So while the benefits to providing more transit are obvious, council has a difficult task of balancing wants and needs with ability to pay.