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City of Nelson takes over Kootenay Lake West transit service

New contract includes 13 routes formerly contracted to NextGen Ltd.

The City of Nelson has been contracted by BC Transit to run a variety of rural transit routes in the West Kootenay.

The city will take over from NextGen Transit, whose contract with BC Transit ends on March 31.

Nelson will continue running its usual routes within the city and will take over these routes from NextGen: 10 North Shore, 14 Blewett, 15 Perrier, 20 Slocan Valley, 51 Nakusp-Hot Springs, 52 Nakusp-Playmor, 53 Nakusp-Edgewood, 57 Kaslo Local, 58 Kaslo Argenta, 72 Salmo-Nelson via Ymir, 74 Nakusp-Nelson, 76 Kaslo-Nelson, and 99 Kootenay Connector.

Bus services within Trail, Castlegar and the Boundary region have been transferred to PWTransit Canada.

BC Transit awarded the contract to the city without putting it out for bid.

“The City of Nelson was direct awarded the contract, following years of demonstrated ability to provide exceptional customer service,” a BC Transit spokesperson said in an email. “The contract will better align transit services in the region and provide more service continuity for our customers.”

The $1.8-million contract is renewable annually.

NextGen employees have been offered comparable roles with the City of Nelson, and riders should notice no changes, the email stated. There will be no changes to routes or schedules.

Councillor Rik Logtenberg is the chair of the regional transit committee, an advisory and co-ordinating group for transit in the West Kootenay.

He told the Nelson Star that the city took on this contract because it has an interest in a strong regional transit system. He said the city wants to make the system more reliable.

“Our transit system lives and dies on its reliability,” he said. “It’s all about having a trusted transportation option for riders. If they’re stuck on the highway because the bus didn’t show up that day, that breaks trust and in a pretty profound way.”

He said BC Transit approached the city and offered it the contract because Nelson is one of its top operators in the province.

Logtenberg said expanding the size of Nelson’s fleet creates efficiencies and resilience. The number of buses under Nelson’s contract will rise from six to 18, and the number of drivers from 13 to 31.

“Having more drivers means that if a driver is sick, there is flexibility. And you need a minimum size to be able to do that.”

Logtenberg said the city already has in-house transit staff who have been running the city’s transit system all along, and the only addition will be the hiring of a transit manager to look after the additional buses and drivers.

Asked if there will be other costs, Logtenberg pointed out that the city is taking over the contract from a for-profit company.

“It’s definitely not going to cost the taxpayers of the City of Nelson anything. It’s not our job to make a profit, and we are ensuring that there’s enough money there in this contract that we protect the taxpayer and actually reinvest in the system.”


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Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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