Okanagan Transit Alliance ‘steadfast’ in push for local, publicly accountable transit operators

Transit alliance 'steadfast'

The Okanagan Transit Alliance is not giving up the fight to have local, publicly accountable operators take over transit service in the region.

Earlier this week BC Transit confirmed that it is extending the term of its operating agreements with TransDev Canada for the Kelowna Regional Transit System, Vernon Regional Transit System, North Okanagan Transit System, and Shuswap Regional Transit System. The contracts have been renewed for two years, beginning April 1, 2024.

TransDev is a multinational corporation based out of France that operates bus services is several countries around the globe.

The Okanagan Transit alliance says it’s disappointed with the contract renewal, but not surprised.

“This extension signifies a continuation of the status quo: a lack of accountability, the squandering of public funds to bolster the profit margins of an overseas corporation, and a lack of transparency regarding contract details and company performance,’ said OTA spokesperson Kirstin Pulles in a statement to Castanet.

“We envision a future where taxpayer resources are redirected towards the creation of meaningful local employment within a locally governed transit authority. This shift would eliminate the inefficiencies inherent in involving a third-party decision maker, ensure equitable compensation for transit workers, and foster a transit system that is answerable to taxpayers and the community it serves,” she adds.

Despite the setback, the OTA says it will remain steadfast in its commitment to advocating for the establishment of a local, publicly accountable management structure for public transit. It’s urging local governments and BC Transit to making such a system a top priority.

The grass roots organization has set four main goals, with ensuring transit is public in the Okanagan by bringing it under local management at the top of the list. It also wants to see HandyDart service expanded, better hours in high-density areas and expanded fare-free service for teens.

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