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Vision unveiled for transit service

BC Transit has come up with a vision for North Okanagan service 25 years from now. - Morning Star File Photo
BC Transit has come up with a vision for North Okanagan service 25 years from now.
— image credit: Morning Star File Photo

Formal plans are now on board to improve and expand local bus service.

BC Transit has come up with a vision for North Okanagan service 25 years from now, which outlines a number of improvements.

The overall goal is to get more people riding the bus. In fact the target is to grow from 445,330 to 1.4 million trips per year by 2038.

“It’s actually something that is achievable, it’s happening in communities already,” said Maria Lockley, senior transit planner for B.C. Transit. “So it’s not a stretch to think that we can accomplish this.”

But in order to do so, there are a number of  additions that need to be made to the current service. Therefore the plan outlines short, medium and long-term goals.

As an example, one of the short-term goals is to introduce service between the downtown exchange to The Shops at Polson Park.

“We’re waiting for the Polson mall development before we move into that area,” said Lockley.

“They have gone a long way to answering our concerns,” said Coldstream Coun. Maria Besso, following a presentation to council Monday.

But Coldstream still has some concerns with the plan.

One of the mid-term goals is to develop a park and ride at Okanagan College, which will assist those taking the UBCO bus.

But that needs to be bumped up the priority list, says Besso.

“It’s needed today,” she said, urging it to be free parking, and also suggesting bus service be extended past 7 p.m.

There are also some concerns about the UBCO route, which travels Pelmewash Parkway.

“The bus takes as long or longer than it did before and now we have a new highway,” said Besso.

But along with demands from Lake Country for the bus to route through the community, Lockley says the bus is actually getting better speeds on Pelmewash than before with the reduction in traffic.

Safety is also key.

“It’s much safer for the bus down there with standees.”

But the option of an express route, in addition to the existing, is being examined by the Regional District of North Okanagan, says Lockley.

Coun. Richard Enns critiques the lack of consideration in getting residents to the college, which will be home to a sports facility.

“They (Coldstream residents), must take the No. 1, go in, exchange and come back,” said Enns, who suggests using College Way and smaller buses.

Lockley says the plan is just that, a plan, and items can be moved.

“If demand is there it can be bumped up,” she said of public petitions and political requests.

Mayor Jim Garlick is pushing for a fare review of the U-Pass (university student pass), which B.C. Transit’s Erin Felker says is a priority.

“The cost recover is quite low,” she said of the U-Pass program.

Coldstream is also asking RDNO to consider putting in a bus shelter at the college.

 

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