Bus service into the BX is getting a rough ride.
Residents of the Foothills subdivision have lobbied the City of Vernon for transit, but Mike Macnabb, regional district director for the surrounding electoral area, doesn’t believe it is necessary.
“By putting transit into it, it goes against the regional growth strategy and doesn’t support densification,” said Macnabb of concerns about urban sprawl.
The Foothills subdivision is 12 kilometres away from Vernon but is part of the city’s boundaries. All land on both sides of Silver Star Road and surrounding the Foothills is part of the Regional District of North Okanagan.
City officials have stated that a bus to Foothills could also serve electoral area residents, but Macnabb isn’t convinced that’s the case.
“I’m getting no phone calls that this is a service anyone wants,” he said.
Macnabb also says extending service to the Foothills may not be a good use of limited funds.
“If you look at the Foothills, there are well-to-do people there and I’d rather see the service go to people who could benefit from it such as (college/university) students or the low income,” he said.
A recent transit review has suggested there could be an initial hourly service to the Foothills Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hourly service would cost $170,000 a year, while a 30-minute frequency would be $327,000.
City staff say that based on current population, the Foothills and adjacent areas are just at the limit of being a viable service financially.
The other concern from city staff is the expectation among electoral area residents that the bus will pick them up if the city extends service to the Foothills but the regional district is not a financial partner.
There is strong support at Vernon council to eventually have buses run to the Foothills although no timeline for such a service has been determined.
“If we’re thinking about something for sustainability reasons, we should extend transit to the outlying areas,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.
“There is a significant carbon footprint for those people driving in (to town) every day.”
Coun. Patrick Nicol also wants the issue investigated further.
“We can serve people who come from Kelowna to Vernon but someone in the Foothills can’t get the bus,” he said.
“They pay for routes (through taxes) to go everywhere else. It’s time they got something.”