Spall transit service debated

Proposed changes to a specific North Okanagan transit route are unlikely to generate more riders to justify the costs.

Proposed changes to a specific North Okanagan transit route are unlikely to generate more riders to justify the costs.

B.C. Transit officials gave a presentation to Spallumcheen council in regards to Route 60, the Enderby-Armstrong-Vernon regional route that connects the communities along Highway 97A.

There are currently five round trips Monday to Friday, and four round trips on Saturdays.

Thanks to reconfiguration upgrades to Highway 97A between Larkin Cross Road and the turnoff to Pleasant Valley Road near the Township of Spallumcheen offices, residents in mobile home parks along the east side of the highway no longer have direct highway access to the #60 route.

“Reconfiguration means there is no pullover area for the bus,” said Maria Lockley, senior transit planner for B.C. Transit.

“There is also the speeds  of vehicles in excess of 100 kilometres per hour on that stretch now which makes it dangerous for the passengers and the driver on the bus if the driver tries to pull over. It’s also dangerous as well for people standing on the highway.”

Proposed changes call for, along the east extension, to reinstate service to the Twin Firs mobile home park, as well as others on the east side, while on the west, there would be service to the Tolko mill and the Spallumcheen Industrial Park which links to the current Spallumcheen office stop.

Transit proposed four options for consideration.

Options 1A and 1B would be an extension of service both east and west of the highway for all trips with 1A trips being Monday to Friday, and 1B trips would be limited to three per day Monday to Friday.

Options 2A and 2B would be an extension of service to the Twin Firs mobile home park only with trips for 2A being all trips Monday to Friday, and, again, a limited three trips Monday to Friday for option 2B.

The changes would add eight minutes of travel to northbound traffic, as well as southbound if the route was extended to the Tolko mill.

B.C. Transit estimates an additional 10 minutes southbound if extended to the mobile home park.

Cost projections for planned changes include $57,100 for option 1A (Spallumcheen’s share would be $28,100); $34,100 ($16,600) for 1B; $30,200 ($14,700) for 2A; and $18,300 ($8,900) for 2B.

Lockley, however, said the proposed changes would not likely result in increased ridership to justify the expenditure.

“Increased timings for the round trips have the potential to deter existing riders, and there’s the chance of loss of existing ridership and revenue,” said Lockley, who added that the estimate cost per ride for the proposed additional service would be from $36 to $42, which she compared to a taxi fare for the same trip.

Council did not make any decision but some councillors wondered if a bus pullout could be created at the north end of Hutley Road.

“I think they (Ministry of Transportation) could move the concrete barriers back, fill in some of the ditch and add a little patch of pavement to make it safe for a bus to pull off and pick up passengers,” said Coun. Christine Fraser.

“If they could do it on a two-lane highway at 80 to 90 km/hour, I’m quite certain they can come up with something they can do with four lanes.”

Fraser motioned for a letter to be sent to the ministry but Coun. Todd York asked for an amendment and called for a meeting with ministry officials.

Council supported the motions though Councillors. Andrew Casson and Rachael Ganson were absent.