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REPORTING · 28th August 2010
Walter McFarlane
It was at City Council on August 16th when two residents, Rodger Papish and Leif Larsen took the stand concerned with the changes to the bus schedule and the elimination of the industrial route made by Council last Spring.

Papish argued this change was not thought through and Council was now interfering with people getting to work. “What you’ve done is you’ve cut it right off for us. There are a few people who depend on it and if you look at the wintertime, there are a lot of people who take the bus. They didn’t consult with drivers, they didn’t consult with regular riders. They didn’t look at this thing closely because if you ask these people, there are routes and there are trips out to Alcan and around town that could have been taken out because they are not used. Also they could have coordinated better with the shifts to encourage people to take the bus more,” said Papish

He encouraged Council to take another look at this suggesting it would be hard to get something back.

Larsen took the stand next. He is a bus driver in Kitimat although he was not representing his employer or his union. He suggested Council has their priorities confused. “You went ahead and cut all the industrial runs along with all but one cross-town run. This slash and burn attitude. The city never publicized which runs are being cut,” said Larsen

He stated people purchase bus passes for this route and they were more popular when there were more people. He pointed out the people of Kitimat were being encouraged to go green and taking the bus to work is one way to go green. He accused Council of not taking input from the drivers or the passengers.

“When Rio Tinto Alcan changed their shifts, the transit did not align with the new shifts. They’ve never done anything about this,” said Larsen.

He said a Consultation period is needed so the City can realign the bus schedules to better fit the smelter times. He also added this means there is no bus service to Service Centre.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed there were many opportunities given the number of people working at Alcan such as Carpooling. Larsen replied it was a bad attitude because a bus should be available. Papish said they were going to get to work, however, carpooling puts people at the mercy of many different problems. However, the bus was always on time.

Papish agreed there were useless runs but there were routes which could be eliminated to save money, even some of the Alcan routes which were not being used. Councillor Randy Halyk expressed they did look at the numbers which were low. However, the presenters argued the numbers were wrong and the transit system had not realigned with the Alcan shifts.

Feldhoff brought this up in new business. He made a motion to have administration report back on the recommendations. He stated he was not inclined to reverse the decision but he wanted to inquire into additional information such as the schedule not being adjusted. There were no other questions so the two of them sat down.

Municipal Manager Trafford Hall asked Community Clerk, Walter McLellan to say a few words. McLellan reminded Council the closure of Eurocan introduced a new reality to Kitimat which made them examine things a little more closely. He said their were a small core of people riding the bus to Alcan. He said it was a long distance

He pointed out they did a survey of the bus service while Eurocan was running during what should have been the busiest month. He said he could not see a way around the recommendation.

CGG asked if they could reschedule to meet the shift change. McLellan said no one had made Council aware of this change and the District did not even see a single complaint about it. He pointed out there is not a core of riders. “It’s not a simple change the service and they will come, all our analysis says: They’re not coming,” said McLellan.

Councillor Goffinet stated he has spent a great chunk of his life taking the bus and car pooling and he does not have a drivers license. He wanted to know how many people were being talked about. McLellen replied it would not be very many. He estimated ten based on conditions but it would depend on who had time off and who would take the bus.

Monaghan called the question. It was defeated. Council moved on.

”I was very disappointed in Council’s Decision. They wouldn’t even take a look at it. They won’t look at it, they won’t talk to the Canadian Autoworkers and see if they adjust the shifts. There’s even the possibility they could look at increasing the fairs for these folks. Maybe there could be a whole different fair structure. If you increase the fairs, these folks might be willing to pay that. I agree you’ve got to eliminate a few of these runs that are dead but leave a few of them in to get these folks back and forth to work. To take it out all together when we’re supposed to be going green in this world of ours, I don’t think that’s right,” said Larsen after the meeting.

”I was just disappointed and I thought they should take a look at it. That’s all I was asking was a closer look,” said Papish. “Don’t cut off a man’s way to work.”
Agreed
Comment by Daniel Carter on 28th August 2010
I totally agree with Mr Papish and Larsen on this issue. The city should be proactive in trying to keep the bus scheduled on the industrial run. It is a green way to go and looks good on Kitimat. The municipal government is starting to behave much like our Liberal Provincial government by not consulting the public in what they do. I know I haven't heard or read anything about this until last week when it was published here in the Daily Online. I would strongly suggest that this should have been consulted with us taxpayers first!