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Okanagan politicians challenged to use public transit for a week

Transit Alliance asks councillors to hop on board for a sense of the local transit system
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BC Transit’s Chris Fudge (left), Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming, Village Green Centre’s Scott Adam and Vernon’s Transporation Manager Amanda Watson unveil a new transit exchange at the mall in December 2019. City councillors will be challenged to take public transit for one week at council’s next meeting Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Vernon councillors will soon be challenged to commute to work by public transit for a week to get a better sense of the local bus system.

The Okanagan Transit Alliance will be inviting the councillors to take part in its BC Transit Week Challenge at council’s next meeting on Monday, Jan. 22.

The challenge takes place from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, when elected officials across the B.C. Interior will be challenged to rely on public transit to get around for seven days.

The transit advocacy group says this is not an alternative transportation challenge and the goal is for elected officials to ride buses or community shuttles as much as possible for the whole week.

The challenge is designed to help city councillors discover what’s working and what’s not working in their local transit system.

Like most B.C. communities, Vernon’s transit routes are planned by BC Transit and plans are approved by local governments (i.e. city councillors) while the daily operations of the service are contracted out to private companies.

According to a presentation that council will see on Monday, the Okanagan Transit Alliance envisions a publicly managed transit system for the Okanagan that is safe, sustainable, accessible, community-driven and that will meet the transportation needs of the growing region.

The Okanagan Transit Alliance notes that the current contract between BC Transit and TransDev (the owners of Vernon Transit) expires around April 2024. Instead of renewing the contract, Okanagan Transit Alliance says it would like to see the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) take over management of the region’s transit.

“The money that is currently spent inflating the profits of an international corporation could instead be used to create good, local jobs and a strong transit system,” the group said, adding a coordinated effort between regional districts would allow for better inter-city travel in the Okanagan.

The Okanagan Transit Alliance notes that taking part in the challenge will not mean that councillors endorse the Alliance or its mission.

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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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