Evening transit moving ahead in Vernon
Buses could be running later at night.
Vernon council budgeted $80,000 Wednesday to extend transit service beyond the current 6:30 p.m. but exact details on which nights will have later routes is yet to be determined.
“We had a goal in our official community plan of increasing people’s participation in transit,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.
“That helps with our roads.”
It’s been suggested buses could run until 9:15 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with other nights possibly going until just after 7 p.m. to accommodate shift workers at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
Other possibly users of an evening service are students attending classes at Okanagan College and people going to the movies.
Coun. Brian Quiring isn’t convinced Saturday service is necessary.
“I don’t think people are taking the bus to restaurants,” he said.
“There is free parking downtown on Saturdays so people are driving.”
That suggestion was countered by Coun. Juliette Cunningham.
“There’s the movies and theatre events,” she said.
Mayor Rob Sawatzky believes Saturday service should be considered.
“If we keep a couple of people on a Saturday night from drinking and having (motor vehicle) accidents, it would be worth it,” he said.
The $80,000 is the city’s contribution to evening service and B.C. Transit’s funding must still be determined. Coldstream could also participate in the extended service but if it does not, late evening runs would not go into that municipality.
The only opposition to budgeting the $80,000 at this time came from Coun. Bob Spiers.
“I actually am in favour of extending the hours of bus service during the entire week if it is required,” he said.
“But I wanted more details on what the estimated ridership would be, total hours of new service etc, when the phase-in period would be, would there be a trial period and the duration of that trial period and an indication of the performance level measure that would constitute whether the trial was a success.”
Depending on the planning process, evening transit service could be available when the new transit terminus on 31st Avenue possibly opens in March.
Council also decided Wednesday to make another change to transit.
Sunday service will become available in Vernon on two statutory holidays — Canada Day and Remembrance Day.