Those waiting for regular half hour service on Sunshine Coast Transit’s (SCT) Route 90 will be waiting until 2024. That service improvement had been slated to start this September. A similar delay will also happen for the previously announced improvements to the local HandyDART system that were to start this July.
Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) manager of community services Shelley Gagnon explained at the March 2 round two budget finance committee meeting that in the province’s 2023 budget, released on Feb. 28, BC Transit (BCT) was provided no new funding for the expansion of services. She said she had been advised by BCT that it would not able to pay for its portion of the cost-shared improvements, and that “would push everything back about a year."
The news was met with disappointment from the SCRD’s elected officials. Area D Director Kelly Backs suggested the board “beat on the province’s door” to ensure that BCT could come to the table with its share of the funding as soon as possible. The directors endorsed a recommendation to lobby the province to provide the funding needed.
Also endorsed was a recommendation that removed the SCRD’s contribution to the costs for the service upgrade from its 2023 budget. That adjustment will reduce the demands on 2023 taxation from areas participating in the transit function (all except Area A Pender Harbour) by about $40,000.
A full report on the adjustments to the Coast’s annual and three-year transit operating plan is slated to be discussed at a committee meeting in April. The service enhancements will be again discussed at that point. Gagnon noted that as there was “excitement” from the public and the ridership about expanded transit service on the Coast, staff opted to bring information about the delay forward as early as possible.
Last October, the board endorsed the first year of a three-year service expansion plan for transit services on the Coast. Included was increased frequency on Route 90 between downtown Sechelt and the Langdale ferry terminal. That service was to begin running every 30 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays as early as September. Thirty-minute service is currently offered between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Improvements are also endorsed for the HandyDART system to better align with the conventional bus system by adding Sunday service and aligning with the Saturday service, and increasing weekday service to span to 5:30 p.m.
With files from Keili Bartlett