B.C. Transit bus wheels will be on Squamish’s road an extra 3,100 hours over the next 12 months.
Starting Sept. 1, local transit will extend its operating hours until 11 p.m. from Mondays through to Saturdays. Wheels will continue to run on Sundays and statutory holidays.
On Oct. 15 the transit service will launch a new Tantalus route connecting that neighbourhood and Garibaldi Village to downtown Squamish during peak weekday periods.
The beefed-up transit responds to the growing needs of the community, Squamish Mayor Rob Kirkham stated in a press release. Residents requested some of the service adjustments during last year’s public consultation conducted by B.C. Transit.
Squamish’s ridership has increased by 6 per cent in the past year. In 2011-’12 citizens took 203,814 trips on public transit, a figure that jumped by 12,306 trips this year.
The upgrades will cost $120,000 to implement, Johann van Schaik, B.C. Transit’s regional transit manager for the south coast, told District of Squamish officials in June. Once in place, the annual operating cost is anticipated to be approximately $200,000, he noted.
The district’s transportation committee worked on the initiative for close to two years, Coun. Susan Chapelle said.
“I’m stoked,” she said, but quickly added she’s not finished.
Next on her agenda is getting an express bus running north and south in Squamish. She’s also pushing for a “recreational bus” that would provide transit to Brennan Park Recreation Centre and Alice, Brohm and Cat lakes.
There’s also the looming question of a commuter service between Squamish and Vancouver. The first step is producing estimated cost figures, a task that’s never been tackled, Chapelle said.
“There are a lot of questions and we don’t know the answers,” she said.