Busted: delegates call for expanded Whitehorse transit service

City will present new transit master plan project in March

Carrie Boles sometimes spends three to four hours of her day walking to school at Yukon College.

Boles was one of four delegates who spoke during city council’s standing committees meeting on Jan. 22.

Boles was joined by fellow college student Kultej Gill. Collete Atcheson and Michael Dougherty, co-chair and secretary of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition (YAPC), also spoke.

Gill and Boles both cited the lack of late-night Saturday bus service and any Sunday bus service as a problem.

Boles moved from Winnipeg to Whitehorse five years ago. In Winnipeg, she was a year-round cyclist. If she couldn’t ride, transit was readily available.

“Being in Whitehorse is a wonderful opportunity.… It’s also had a lot of challenges,” she told council.

If she’s going to rely on transit, she said she can’t stay late at the college on Saturday nights, or even make it there on Sunday. The other option is to walk in occasionally brutal conditions, or to hitchhike.

Atcheson and Dougherty said a lack of service can lead to people making risky decisions to get where they need to go.

Others may miss out completely, said Kristina Craig, executive director of YAPC, in an interview.

“I think this is really about inclusion and people having the ability to get where they need to get when they want to get there,” she said. “That includes everything from doctor’s appointments, to job interviews, to programs.”

The city launched work on its first transit master plan project in the fall.

Staff will present council with the findings of that project, including the results of online transit surveys and the recent bus lane project in Riverdale, in March.

She said YAPC recognizes that bus service is currently heavily subsidized as it is, but she’d like to see the city come together with the community to develop creative ideas around what improved transit might look like.

Bus service could be limited on Sundays to keep costs down, Craig said, adding that low-income earners should also have access to the same cut-rate bus passes available to seniors and people with disabilities.

“This is not a new issue at all,” Craig said. She said she wants to make sure there’s some recognition of that in the master transit study.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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