Council wants funding for university buses

Ensuring students can get to class has made the grade.

Ensuring students can get to class has made the grade.

Vernon council says its No. 1 priority for $4 million in regional gas tax revenue are three buses on the route between the North Okanagan and the University of B.C. campus in Kelowna.

“We can’t leave kids on the side of the road,” said Coun. Jack Gilroy, adding that situation frequently occurs with the service, which currently consists of two buses.

Besides students going to UBC, the transit service is also used by people working and shopping in Kelowna or wanting to get to the international airport. There are also stops for passengers in Lake Country.

Through the federal gas tax program, the Regional District of North Okanagan has access to $4 million for regionally significant projects.

Each of RDNO’s member jurisdiction has been asked to submit a list of initiatives it believes should be considered.

The total cost for three buses would be $1.5 million, with the city hoping $795,000 would be covered by gas tax revenue. The remainder would come from the provincial B.C. Transit agency.

Other possible regionally significant projects put forward by Vernon are the 31st Avenue transit station, relocation of the septage facility, a Kalamalka Lake Road trail, development of the Middleton Mountain trail system, transit stop improvements and a public market.

There are no cost details for Middleton Mountain trails but the price tag for the other six projects is $5.4 million.

Coun. Patrick Nicol supports Vernon’s bid for transit buses but he points out that other communities will also be trying to get funds from RDNO.

“It’s not a lot of money,” he said of the $4 million.