The problem with the Ladysmith Trolley Service is one of scale.
This behemoth trundles around town belching diesel fumes and rarely has passengers. I see this daily as it travels through my neighbourhood. This is very wasteful and unsustainable.
However (as in all things) there is a common sense solution. Council could sell the trolleys (there are two of them) and reinvest in smaller, fuel-efficient 12- to 15-passenger multi-use shuttle-style vans fitted with lifts and bicycle racks. The vans could be painted with the town logo and accommodate advertising. Given that the price of diesel has skyrocketed, natural gas or propane would be a good choice. This option may be more acceptable to the ratepayers.
However, there is also the issue of the line item expense.
If Council agrees to join BC Transit through the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) to provide public transit to Duncan, then it is conceivable that the trolley budget would be transferred to the CVRD, with the trolley service reduced or eliminated. By reducing or eliminating the trolley budget at this time, council will have to come back to the ratepayers and hope that a new transit budget is approved.
There is also potential for a “bait and switch” scenario, where council retains the current trolley as a sort of “budget placeholder” while negotiating with BC Transit, then simply transfers the current trolley budget to BC Transit under the umbrella of “transit spending,” thereby bypassing the need to go back to the ratepayers. Transit to Duncan has been proposed before but was not approved for a variety of reasons.
In the meantime, let’s hope council shows some good judgement and leadership on this issue and chooses to change out the vehicles to something more sensible, thereby reducing the cost while maintaining this service.