By Lyonel Doherty
You could almost hear a pin drop at last week’s transit plan open house in Osoyoos.
But the several people who did show up left better informed about the regional district’s plan to spend $250,000 to expand regional bus service from Penticton to Kelowna.
Contractor Erick Thompson said a new Penticton-Kelowna connection service was identified as a top priority in the regional district’s Transit Future Plan. What is being proposed is two round trips a day on weekdays.
“So people trying to get to Kelowna for medical appointments, to get to the airport, to get to the university, it provides a service that is regular Monday through Friday and two times a day.”
Thompson said the existing transit service from Osoyoos to Penticton would tie into this new service being proposed. Currently, the transit system does offer a trip to Kelowna on Mondays, and that service is $11 one way.
Thompson said the fare for the new, expanded weekday service to Kelowna will likely be similar, but hasn’t yet been confirmed.
He noted the specifics of where the new bus route will stop in Kelowna haven’t been determined yet. If and when the plan is approved, there will be public consultation on where people want to stop in Kelowna.
Thompson said if people are in favour of this new service, they don’t need to do anything. If they are not in favour, they can register their opposition through the regional district’s alternative approval process. People must sign an elector response form and submit it to the regional district before August 31. Forms are available at the town hall in Osoyoos and Oliver.
If 10 per cent (6,516) of the qualified electors object, the regional district cannot adopt the bylaw without going to referendum.
Thompson said he spoke to some Osoyoos residents who said they like to go to Kelowna over the weekend. So this new service will allow them to go up on a Friday and come back on the Monday.
“It provides more frequency and more regular service, more reliable service for people throughout the South Okanagan to get to Kelowna.”
Thompson said two round trips makes sense for a lot of people.
He noted the service will utilize a 40-foot heavy-duty bus, which is the largest bus in BC Transit’s fleet, other than a double decker. It will have the capacity to accommodate scooters and walkers, he added.
John Kurvink, the regional district’s manager of finance, said the annual cost per average household in Osoyoos would be $4.45. The average cost in Oliver would be $3.72.