British Columbia

City of Dawson Creek, B.C., votes to cut down bus service

The changes — which include eliminating Saturday and evening service — are set to take place in July 2020.

Cuts include eliminating service on Saturdays and in the evening

Raistlin van Spronsen, 25, who has lived in Dawson Creek his whole life, is a frequent bus user. (Submitted by Raistlin van Spronsen)

The City of Dawson Creek, B.C., is trimming its bus service in a bid to cut costs. 

The city plans to eliminate all buses on Saturdays, as well as evenings after 5:15 p.m.. There is already no bus service on Sundays.

Mayor Dale Bumstead says the priority for council is the fiscal future of the city, which is looking to cut $1.3 million from its budget this year.

"None of these decisions are easily made," Bumstead told host Carolina de Ryk on CBC's Daybreak North.

Bumstead said the transit routes have some of the lowest ridership numbers in the province. 

"We had 100,000 rides last year. The subsidy [from the city] to the residents was $700,000 dollars that equated to $7 a ride," he said. 

"It's just not a service that's really valued in lots of respects by the community because ... we just have such low ridership."

The city plans to eliminate all buses on Saturdays as well as evenings. There is already no bus service on Sundays. (Submitted by Raistlin van Spronsen)

'A desperate crunch'

But some residents who rely on the bus service are worried about the cuts, which are set to take place in July. 

Robin Gibson, 64, has Parkinson's disease and suffered a heart attack and cannot drive. He says he's not sure he can afford the alternative — a taxi — if the bus service is cut.

"Without the bus service or complete bus service, it does put a desperate crunch on me because I can't walk as far as I used to," Gibson said. 

Raistlin van Spronsen, 25, is another frequent bus user. He works at the KFC and takes the bus almost daily.

He says his family has used public transit for years.

"We only had one car as a family. My dad would go to work out of town and we'd just rely on the buses," he said. 

"[The bus] is so much more cost effective for us as residents who work these minimum wage jobs."

More cuts to city services

Van Spronsen has launched a petition to stop the cuts, but Mayor Bumstead says while he's sympathetic to bus users, the city is trying to balance its priorities without raising taxes.

"We're certainly not ignoring it but we certainly are looking at it from the fiscal perspective of saying we need to be sure that we can continue to afford to provide those services and our residents can afford to provide those services for the future," he said. 

Reducing the bus service isn't the only cut the city has proposed. 

In addition, the library has been forced to close on Sundays. Park services have been reduced and several jobs at City Hall have been lost. 

With files from Daybreak North