Bus riders with the Vernon Regional Transit System will benefit from service improvements, including new and expanded routes, and a simplified fare system.
BC Transit announced Tuesday afternoon at Vernon City Hall a simplified fare system that will allow all passengers to pay a single, one-way fare of $2.50 to travel across all zones.
The fare changes – the first in Vernon and Coldstream since 2004 – and new routes and extensions take effect April 1.
“This is really exciting,” said Matthew Boyd, BC Transit planning manager for the North Okanagan area. “It’s always exciting when you can put a new line on the map.”
The new line is a high-frequency route called 9 North End. This route will run seven days a week, providing direct service from downtown to the north end, in the the Village Green Centre and Walmart.
Other service enhancements include adding Saturday service on the No. 90 UBCO Connector (where the fare will rise to $5 one-way from the current $2.50), and extending service hours until 9 p.m. Monday to Friday on Routes 3 Alexis Park, 5 South Vernon, 7 Okanagan Landing and 8 Bella Vista.
Routing changes to Routes 2 Pleasant Valley and 3 Alexis Park will improve service east and west of 27th Street, respectively. There will also be minor changes to Routes 8 Bella Vista and 7 Okanagan Landing.
“Route 8 Bella Vista will now loop through Heritage Drive,” said Boyd. “This will supplement Route 7, providing 35-minute service to the area between both routes.
“Route 7 will continue to serve the same ares, but will minor directional changes in the Heritage Drive area to continue serving Planet Bee in the westbound direction.”
Vernon will receive two new 30-foot, medium-duty buses, each equipped with closed-circuit TV cameras to improve passenger and driver safety.
The new simplified fare will make it more convenient to ride the bus in the region.
“We looked at fair structures and previously we had some boundaries,” said Amanda Watson, City of Vernon transportation manager. “We had a single zone and a multi zone, and that led us to having 14 different fare products which is neither easy nor simple to use.
“We’ve removed the zone boundary through agreement with our partners. We now have a unified fare system and fare product. One fare product and five products. Prices for tickets, monthly passes and day passes are now unified as of April 1.”
The cash fare is $2.50 for riders aged six and up (five and under are free); 10-tickets for all fares is $22.50; a DayPASS for all fares is $6; monthly pass will be $55 for adults, $40 for students/seniors and $120 for student with semester pass (though reduced fare will be available with valid ID for persons 65 and over, post-secondary students and students in full-time attendance in Grade 12).
The handyDart fare will be $2 effective April 1, and will rise to $2.50 on April 1, 2019; and a trip from Enderby to Salmon Arm will be $2.25.
With more than 8,000 new hours being invested in local transit, Watson is optimistic the city will see an increase in ridership.
“Each time we’ve done a service expansion, or improvement or extended hours, we’ve seen an increase in ridership,” she said.
UBCO’s U-PASS will remain valid on both Vernon and Kelowna Regional Transit systems, and Vernon’s monthly and day passes will continue to be accepted on Kelowna buses at no additional cost.
Kelowna Transit monthly and day passes are not valid on the local Vernon Transit system.
More information on the new routes and changes can be found at bctransit.com/vernon.