A nonprofit organization that maintains a fleet of historic Vancouver buses is looking for a new home. The Transit Museum Society has learned that budget pressures at TransLink will bring funding for the group to an end next year.
The society operates about 12 buses dating back to the 1930s as part of a “rolling museum” that’s used for community events, weddings, and movies. TransLink, which has been covering the cost of renting a warehouse to store the buses in, recently gave the group a year’s notice, until the end of September 2013, to find a new place to keep the vehicles.
“We’ve been renting a lot in Burnaby from a landowner, and paying that plus vehicle insurance and liability insurance has added up to more than $91,000 a year to TransLink,” Drew Snider, a spokesperson for the transit authority, told the Straight by phone.
“So with our current budgetary situation…we just decided that we can’t continue that support.”
Dale Laird, president of the society, said his group is concerned about finding a new location. They plan to look for private partners to keep the bus museum going.
“Our problem is going to be finding a place to store the buses, being able to afford a warehouse to put them in—that’s going to be our biggest problem,” he said. “We’ve got some ideas of partnerships…we’ve been making a list of who we could talk to and other museum groups that we could partner with.”
The historic bus fleet includes one locally built bus from 1937, while the majority are from 1946 to 1957. The collection also includes buses representative of each decade.
Laird, who was a bus driver in Vancouver for 36 years, added that he knows some of his peers support preserving the city’s transit history, but suggested the sentiment is being overruled by budgetary pressures.
Transit commissioner Martin Crilly challenged TransLink earlier this year to find cost savings of $40 million to $60 million over the next three years. The authority recently identified $98 million in annual “efficiencies” over the next three years, amid lower than projected revenues.
“It would just be sad to lose the history of these vehicles,” Laird said.