Call for action over crammed bus

Pressure could ultimately be eased on the North Okanagan’s busiest transit route.

Pressure could ultimately be eased on the North Okanagan’s busiest transit route.

The Regional District of North Okanagan and B.C. Transit are trying to determine how to provide additional runs to the University of B.C. in Kelowna.

“The service (currently) leaves students behind,”  said director Rob Sawatzky.

“Assisting young people and improving that run is a priority.”

Staff and B.C. Transit are considering options, including the schedule and whether there may be a need for a third bus.

Because another bus is costly, Sawatzky wonders if there are other steps that can be taken like reworking the schedule and going from eight to 10 trips during the school year.

“Is there an option to do it without any additional cost?”

The RDNO board has approved some changes to the UBC schedule.

The 6 p.m. departure from Vernon to UBC will move to 1 p.m. This bus will leave UBC at 2 p.m. and it’s anticipated this will help alleviate overcrowding on the 4 p.m. departure from Kelowna.

During the Christmas break at UBC, the service will be reduced from eight to four trips per day.

The changes are proposed to be implemented within about eight weeks.

RDNO is also having to go 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, Vernon picked up the additional $120,000 a year because other communities had concerns about costs and use among their residents.

RDNO members have now agreed to fund the second bus and that requires the creation of a funding service. However, the provincial government says public approval is required first.

If 10 per cent of electors sign an alternate approval petition opposing the establishment of the service by 4 p.m., the function cannot proceed.

Director Juliette Cunningham questions why the provincial government is demanding the approval process when there is such a need for the transit service.

“The province is encouraging public transit but I find it (process) surprising. It’s a lot we have to go through,” she said.