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District changes UBC bus routes

Measures are being taken to ease congestion on a popular bus route.

The Regional District of North Okanagan is proposing to add two daily runs between Vernon and Kelowna when the University of B.C. is in session from fall to spring. The goal is to try and accommodate more students, many of whom are left standing on the side of the road because the two buses are full.

“It’s clear that there’s a need,” said chairperson Patrick Nicol.

The number of trips per day would go from eight to 10.

To ensure there are the funds to add the two runs, about four runs will be cut during the summer when the university is not operating.

Initiating the new schedule will depend on approval from B.C. Transit.

If the plan proceeds, the trip changes will be reviewed in May.

“How did that work? Is there still a demand for a third bus?” said David Sewell, general manager of finance.

While some residents have demanded a third bus, RDNO officials have stated that other options for improving service should be considered first.

“It’s a gradual way to do it. The costs of the service are increasing,” said Nicol.

The local contribution to operate each bus is about $120,000 per year, with B.C. Transit providing a similar amount.

Besides students, the other focus for the Kelowna route is residents accessing doctors’ appointments, work or shopping.

“There is the potential for the general public to use the bus as a connector,” said director Juliette Cunningham.

RDNO is currently going through a legislative process to establish a transit service to UBC.

Virtually all RDNO members fund one bus to UBC. But when a second bus began in 2010, only Vernon picked up that cost.

RDNO members have now agreed to fund the second bus and that requires the creation of a funding service. If 10 per cent of electors sign an alternate approval petition opposing the service by Monday, the function cannot proceed.

 

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