Whitehorse Daily Star

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Community Services Minister Currie Dixon

Almost $900,000 in transit funding is heading to Yukon

A total of $890,000 could be rolling from Ottawa to the City of Whitehorse transit department.

By Stephanie Waddell on May 18, 2016

WATSON LAKE – A total of $890,000 could be rolling from Ottawa to the City of Whitehorse transit department.

The new $3.4-billion transit fund announced by the federal government is translating into cash for the territory.

The amount allocated for this year – $890,000 – is based on ridership figures for the transit system.

The territory and city haven’t discussed the details of the program yet.

However, Community Services Minister Currie Dixon said in an interview Saturday he’s “almost certain” the full funding would go entirely to Whitehorse. The capital is the territory’s only community to operate a bus system.

The minister was in Watson Lake for the Association of Yukon Communities’ annual general meeting.

As Mayor Dan Curtis put it in an interview Monday: “I’m pretty optimistic.”

It’s not entirely clear yet what projects would be eligible, nor exactly what the funding arrangement might be (if other government contributions will be required and the like), but Curtis already has some ideas in mind.

The city has already ordered two new buses with funding already budgeted for those.

However, the vehicles become an ongoing need for the city to deliver what is many residents’ main form of transportation, he said.

“It really is an essential service,” Curtis said, pointing to the expanding ridership in recent years.

Through agreements with the territory’s Department of Education and Yukon College, students at high schools and the college are offered transit passes.

High school students must choose whether to use the school bus system or city system before they are given the pass.

All full-time students at the college are provided with the service, and can simply show their student ID to ride the bus.

Ridership has also risen with the addition of evening service. That operates until 10:20 p.m., allowing staff at many shops to get home after finishing up the closing shift.

Dixon was quick to note that while $890,000 is certainly welcomed, with buses costing in the $600,000 range, it’s not a limitless pot of money coming for transit.

Along with the possibility of a new bus, Curtis also said he’d like to explore options that might allow the transit department to keep the buses inside.

As it stands, he said, in order to keep the buses operating at -20 C or colder, staff are forced to keep the vehicles running overnight.

If the city had extra funds to add some indoor parking space for buses at its current transit building in Marwell, it would mean the buses could simply be parked overnight without having to waste considerable amounts of diesel fuel and release unnecessary greenhouse gases into the air.

The transit department is envisioned to be part of the building consolidation project that would move a number of departments to a new site off Two Mile Hill and Range Road.

However, Curtis said that will be a future phase to be added in, and is dependent on funding.

For now, the focus of the building consolidation project is getting the new operations building constructed.

Like Dixon, Curtis was quick to note more clarity will be needed on the details of the fund and how it will be delivered before any firm decisions can be made by the city on how the potential funding will be spent.

Comments (12)

Up 0 Down 0

Max Mack on May 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm

No such thing as "free money" in municipal finance. The magic of depreciation and funding agreements ensure that expenses will climb, demanding revenue increases.

I anxiously wait for the next round of tax/fee/fine increases. The hilarity never ends.

Up 4 Down 3

Josey Wales on May 22, 2016 at 7:22 pm

I said nothing about trains NOT being a part of our history, re-read it. I did however say THAT trolley which came from south america had ZIP to do with our history.
If "any ol' " train will do, our history cannot be that important.
Good thing we do not have them now I suppose, all the whiners would wail to the keystone cops cuz yoga is noisy now and (OMFC)..dogs are barking/howling.
Your point is not lost on me, just misdirected.

Up 5 Down 3

Joey Manvilly on May 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm

I wish Josey Wales was a little more respectful of history and trains and people. Why always so negative Josey? I had hoped the other Josey would make you more reflective.

When I am in an extended care facility located about 20 km from town I hope there will be trolley that rocks me gently to sleep as I head for a big excursion to the library.

Up 13 Down 1

Hey Josie on May 22, 2016 at 11:39 am

The trains have lots to do with our history. You weren't here, it was before your time. It was really something when the WP&YR would come rolling into town about 6am and let its whistle go which was more like a big blaring fog horn. All the dogs in 'Whiskey Flats' would join in unison and begin howling together. A quaint nuance but fondly remembered by many.

Up 10 Down 4

Josey Wales on May 21, 2016 at 7:26 am

A monorail...great local shot and fantastic pop culture reference.
Funny thing though, given the epic levels of stupid sitting in the many many layers of "governments"...it will be a reality soon.

Lay more tracks and run that stupid useless trolley that has zip to do with our history all over town.
Kinda like our roads and traffic lights, it could give you the illusion of getting somewhere...when all your doing is keeping the trough full up for the royals and their nobles to feed from.

We so need the reset button hit around here bigtimus.
Oh yeah the "free money", nothing free about it and we do not need new buses to sit empty.

Up 13 Down 0

Joey Manvilly on May 20, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Run the trolley out to the extended care facility in Whistlebend and out to the Fishway and make it free fro students and seniors.

Up 10 Down 3

Why Not............. on May 19, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Build a Monorail to Wasteland Bend.

Up 9 Down 1

wundering on May 19, 2016 at 11:39 am

Rapid Transit to Whistlebend.

Up 13 Down 1

YukonMax on May 19, 2016 at 10:52 am

The title is misleading to say the least. Nothing to do with the "Yukon" as the yukon as a whole isn't riding the Whitehorse buses.

Up 2 Down 2

WallyW on May 18, 2016 at 8:56 pm

This is fiscal prudence being demonstrated by these two woeful politicians?

Up 6 Down 42

Pretty Sad... on May 18, 2016 at 4:55 pm

It is pretty sad when the Yukon Party caters to Whitehorse and the non-native population for votes while Ross River suffers with Feral Dog issues that does not concern the Yukon Party one bit, even after a Native Youth is killed by these Feral Dogs.

Maybe the Yukon Party should hang onto this cash for all the lawsuits that will be coming their way as a result of negligence towards the Ross River community.

Up 17 Down 13

Tell MR. MP for the Yukon the following on May 18, 2016 at 4:03 pm

The Federal green infrastructure program calls for investment in green infrastructure like electric buses.
Why is the City of Whitehorse permitted to purchase buses that are not green infrastructure and that run all night creating many tons of fossil fuels.
The mayor doesn't know what he is talking about. They should be putting heaters under the front of the buses.
Now he wants to keep the downtown building for storage of buses is that true.?
Residents of Whitehorse this gets even worse than we thought. We are doomed with this mayor and manager.
Here we go keeping the building and paying the cost to operate when it is past due.

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