Airport bus stop considered

Additional options for tourists trying to get to the airport could eventually take flight.

Vernon council has asked that a southbound bus stop at Kelowna International Airport be considered by the North Okanagan Regional District and be part of an upcoming transit service review.

“Guests wish to have better service,” said Michelle Jefferson, tourism manager.

Presently, the bus leaves Vernon, stops at the Kalamalka college campus and the University of B.C. in Kelowna and doesn’t arrive at the airport until it is returning northbound. That adds about 17 minutes for someone wanting to go to the airport.

“It must be frustrating to see your destination and then keep going,” said Coun. Shawn Lee.

It’s been proposed that a stop could be made at the airport before the bus arrives at UBC.

“By providing more choice, we will reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles,” said Coun. Shawn Lee.

It was also suggested that increased transit use would ease parking at the airport.

However, not everyone embraces the idea.

“This is in direct competition to existing businesses,” said Coun. Bob Spiers of private taxis and shuttles.

Spiers called for a surcharge for anyone wanting to take the bus to the airport, but that was shot down.

“If someone wants to wait two or three hours for a bus, they are not competing with a taxi,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.

“It’s a service that’s nice to offer. We need to provide more (to tourists).”

Support for Spiers’ proposal came from Coun. Patrick Nicol, who says the UBC route is expensive to operate.

“There is nothing wrong with clawing back a little money from those who benefit,” he said.

“Sometimes in business, when you add to a service, you get a fee for it.”

O’Keefe pointed out that an extra bus stop has not been approved and is only being reviewed.

“Our motion does not preclude a fee for service,” she said.

The other issue that arose is the bus to UBC is often at capacity and a southbound stop at the airport could delay students getting to classes.

“This additional time will impact students’ time and they are on a tight schedule,” said Spiers.