HandyDART services to expand in October

HandyDART services in Williams Lake will be expanded by five extra hours a week beginning Oct. 1.

HandyDART services in Williams Lake will be expanded by five extra hours a week beginning Oct. 1.

The city will share the cost with BC Transit.

Expanding the service was an item that came up at the end of the budget process in the spring, after council heard from Seniors Advisory Council president Audrey MacLise, who advocated more services were needed in the community.

Staff told council the cost for the expanded hours will be around $30,000, considerably less than the originally budgeted amount of $50,000.

The cost savings is because the service starts on Oct.1, but also because BC Transit has agreed to share the total cost.

For the Oct. 1 to Dec.31 segment –– the city will pay $3,500 and BC Transit will pay $3,900.

Chief Administrative Officer Brian Carruthers said in partnership with BC Transit and the Lakers Go Bus Society, the city plans to monitor the usage.

“A great majority of these extra hours are for Saturday service and so we intend to monitor the use and ensure that the people we pick up are aware of the hours that are being offered,” Carruthers said.

Coun. Laurie Walters asked if there will be additional advertising about the extended hours, and heard that users of the service are registered and those current clients will be made aware of the increase in service.

“BC Transit does all of our promotion on our behalf, but we can certainly get the word out,” Carruthers said. “The next edition of the Rider’s Guide will also include the information, but it doesn’t come out until next year.

“Again, this is more on a trial basis and given the added hours we may get new subscribers to the HandyDART service.”

Coun. Ivan Bonnell congratulated staff and BC Transit for responding to the April request so quickly, and was echoed by Coun. Surinderpal Rathor, who said the expanded service recognizes the needs of seniors in the community.