Extended city transit services could be up for debate when Whitehorse’s operations budget comes up for second reading next week.
City council is proposing to run buses every weeknight until 10 p.m. beginning this fall. Right now, evening service is only available on Fridays.
Businesses and students support the change.
On March 11, Daniel Ashley, president of the Yukon College Student Union, came to council to support extending the service. And the business community is “delighted” by the change, Coun. Kirk Cameron told council Monday night.
But Coun. Dave Stockdale has some reservations. Extended service should be tested on a one-year trial basis, he said. The city needs to recover enough costs to make it viable, he said, suggesting 30 per cent cost recovery would be a reasonable target. He may bring a motion forward next week to have the extended bus services begin on a probationary basis, he said.
He’s spoken to different stores and restaurants, he said. Not all workers use the bus. Some get rides home with friends or use taxis, he said.
“I know it’s a good service, a lot of people said they need it, but we’ve got to get a sense of who really needs it,” Stockdale told council.
But not everyone thinks running the service on a trial basis is a good idea.
If people know evening service may only be for a year, it may be harder for them to change their habits, said Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu.
Instead, the city should offer the service permanently and review it to see if it’s reasonable.
“When you say that it’s a permanent initiative, then the mentality is we’re going to do whatever it takes to make it work. And you approach it a whole different way. And the way people look at it is very different as well because they say that we have a commitment to provide transit that works for the population.”
Many online comments support extending the service, said Coun. John Streicker.