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Fort St. John buses are late over half the time: study

Buses in Fort St. John are late more than 54 per cent of the time, according to a new study commissioned by B.C. Transit. That buses are late more often than not isn’t news to Dailyne Wilson, who was waiting for a bus last Tuesday morning.

Buses in Fort St. John are late more than 54 per cent of the time, according to a new study commissioned by B.C. Transit.

That buses are late more often than not isn’t news to Dailyne Wilson, who was waiting for a bus last Tuesday morning.

She enjoys the bus drivers in town, but said she’s become accustomed to running behind schedule.

Usually the late buses aren't more than four minutes behind schedule — something the B.C. Transit system deems acceptable.

But in some cases, it can be nearly 20 or 30 minutes before a bus driver picks up passengers like Wilson.

Matthew Boyd, a regional planning work lead for B.C. Transit, admitted that while lateness is an issue for nearly all bus lines in B.C., Fort St. John's buses aren't as punctual as other similarly-sized systems in B.C.

Now the city is making an attempt to improve the service.

This week city council voted to move forward with a plan that would reduce the number of daily trips by next September from 70 to 68.

A presentation to Fort St. John City Council showed that the Southside and Central-Prospect Park bus trips could have their trips reduced, but that hasn't been finalized.  

B.C. Transit plans to consult the public on the cuts, since social factors could come in to play, even if the ridership is low.

It's hoped that fewer trips will allow buses more "recovery time" between runs, which in turn will improve their on-time ratios.

Shelley Landaas welcomed the plan. She runs Peace Country Transit.

Her company was hired by B.C. Transit in 2008 to provide bus services for Dawson Creek and Fort St. John.

“In the winter months, you don’t want people waiting at a bus stop for 20 minutes at minus 30,” she said.

“We were finding that especially when the weather was poor, the regulars would actually have to phone in to see if the buses were late or not.”

Landaas is the one who prodded B.C. Transit to study the issue in the first place.

Fort St. John's growing population is leading to worsening traffic, which the study said is the primary cause of the poor punctuality score.

“A lot of [bus drivers] are saying it's taking longer to get from point A to point B simply because there’s a lot more traffic in town than there used to be,” said Landaas.

“I don’t think losing two trips is going to have an impact, because in reality we were losing those trips on bad weather days anyway, since we would get so far behind we would have to skip a round,” she added. “[Bus passengers] want to know they can go to the bus stop and the bus is going to show up, and they’re not going to wait 20 minutes.”

reporter@ahnfsj.ca