Riders get on a bus at the new Port Alberni exchange

Riders get on a bus at the new Port Alberni exchange

Get on the bus and ride

Alberni's mayor bids for free bus passes to entice city councillors to take transit, get in touch with new system.

Port Alberni’s mayor wants councillors to ride city buses to get more in touch with a transit system he says does not adequately serve residents.

On Monday night, Mayor John Douglas put forth a motion that council be provided with free bus passes.

“This would allow council members to make more informed decisions about transit,” he said, adding other benefits include decreasing the use of personal vehicles, alleviating parking issues and increasing interactions between council members and the general public.

Douglas contends the city’s new bus schedule has “some glaring omissions,” including the fact there is no stop at West Coast General Hospital (WCGH) until 7:45 a.m. after the start-of-shift for most employees, and no bus stops at the hospital on Sundays.

“We have a brand new schedule as a result of input we have provided,” Douglas said. “Yet not one person on our city council uses public transportation.”

Meribeth Burton, corporate spokesperson for B.C. Transit, said four open houses were held over options for recent transit changes and council ultimately approved this route option. The new routes went into effect Aug. 26.

But council’s response to Douglas’ plan to learn more by riding buses was tepid, at best.

“For the community to pay for my bus [rides], I do not agree with that,” said Coun. Cindy Solda. “If I want to catch the bus I will pay for it.”

City manager Ken Watson explained the city keeps all the revenues from transit fees, and allowing councillors to ride for free would not impact revenues.

Coun. Wendy Kerr acknowledged she knows nothing about the bus system in Port Alberni.

However, the motion did pass.

Douglas recently said B.C. Transit is looking at changing some things regarding service to WCGH, and general service improvements on Sundays.