BC Transit is working on a draft plan for future improvements to local bus service.

BC Transit is working on a draft plan for future improvements to local bus service.

Future transit road map laid out

Improvements are on route in the coming years to enhance opportunities for those getting on board the bus

Improvements are on route in the coming years to enhance opportunities for those getting on board the bus.

Following public consultation on the local bus service, BC Transit is drafting a plan for the future.

“To essentially provide a road map for potential transit use for the future,” said Matthew Boyd,  BC Transit senior planner.

Key points in the plan were presented to Vernon and Coldstream councils Monday and will be heard by the Regional District of North Okanagan on Wednesday.

A draft is expected to be brought back to regional partners in early 2014.

Public feedback, which included more park and rides, more frequent service and smaller vehicles, have helped shape the plan so far. From that, key objectives have been mapped out.

“Nothing is set in stone, this is just an initial summary,” said Boyd.

The short term, one to five year, proposals include a new inner city loop, a new Village Vreen Centre to downtown exchange, realignment of existing routes on that corridor, extending service to the Shops at Polson Place, a new Middleton Mountain route, extended weekday service hours and improved weekend service and schedule alignment with Salmon Arm and Enderby.

A new route utilizing the new College Way is also in the plans.

“That’s one of the most popular requests for service within Coldstream, to provide direct access to Okanagan College,” said Boyd. “This service would be in addition to any existing service (the No. 1).”

Objectives for the next six to 10 years include: improved weekday service to Kelowna, improved transfer from Enderby and Lumby, a new route connecting the Foothills to the Village Green Centre and improved service to the hospital.

“It (hospital) is particularly challenging to access,” said Boyd, noting that BC Transit will be working with the Ministry of Transportation to improve the current situation.

It is one point Coldstream Coun. Richard Enns would like to see moved up the priority list.

“There’s absolutely a need to have good access to the hospital by a bus route,” said Enns.

Shelter for Coldstream riders is also something Enns is eager to see.

“In our area we have very few bus shelters,” said Enns.

BC Transit does have a cost share program for shelters, which may be looked at for Coldstream.

Some of the longer term, 11 to 25 years, initiatives in BC Transit’s plan include weekend service to UBCO, expansion of weekend and evening service on the Lumby and Armstrong/Enderby routes and park and rides in Armstrong and possibly at Swan Lake.

Many of the changes depend on growth and ridership, but Boyd points out that regional partners also play a key role in that aspect.

“Attracting additional ridership isn’t as simple as throwing money and resources at the system,” said Boyd, noting how partners can do things such as ensuring there are proper sidewalks, crosswalks and shelters in place.

“It’s important to remember that at some point all transit riders are pedestrians.”

Coldstream staff have also been involved in discussion over the potential need for a stop at the proposed shopping centre on Aberdeen and Highway 6.

“If it ever happens, the existing route one would be re-aligned off of Middleton Way,” said Trevor Seibel, Coldstream’s chief administrative officer.