Brakes put on free New Year’s Eve bus rides

Rowdy youth in Rossland last New Year's Eve have spoiled the party for party-goers looking for a free bus ride this year.

Rowdy youth in Rossland last New Year’s Eve have spoiled the party for party-goers looking for a free bus ride this year.

BC Transit has confirmed the regional service will not offer free bus rides to people on New Year’s Eve as it had in the past.

Drunk and rowdy youth left drivers and their security officers concerned about their own safety last Jan. 1.

“Because of the incidents the last couple of years the operating company and their security have certainly made their case from a safety perspective,” said Meribeth Burton, BC Transit spokesperson.

“And BC Transit is in full support of the operating company and the local government not to offer the service this year.”

Last year, approximately 200 intoxicated youth surrounded the 1 a.m. free ride in Rossland, which prompted a call for RCMP escorts and a review of the service in general.

Although Sergeant Rob Hawton of the Greater Trail detachment said the youth had dispersed and no charges were laid, the West Kootenay Transit Committee decided it was time to put the brakes on the free rides.

“It’s unfortunate because it takes only a few to spoil it for the many,” said Burton. “But it was dangerous two years ago and became more dangerous last year. Common sense had to prevail.”

B.C. Transit operates free extended hours in 132 communities New Year’s Eve, however Castlegar is the only local community continuing to offer the service.

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