Like it or hate it, the Queensway bus loop is under construction and the bus stops have been moved to Ellis Street.
Moving the bus traffic has caused some confusion, headaches and traffic backups, but the City of Kelowna says Ellis was the best option.
“We did an analysis of three different scenarios and locations throughout downtown,” explains Mike Kittmer, Active Transportation Coordinator with the City of Kelowna.
“Many had either challenges with the turning radiuses for buses, taking away parking, taking away frontages of businesses or blocking the frontages with buses, that were deemed to be too much of a risk.”
The temporary bus station along Ellis is expected to remain until the fall when the Queensway bus loop will reopen.
Until that time transit users will be stuck on Ellis and some say it is a pain.
“It is really confusing, especially the temporary spots. I have had drivers that don't drop off at certain stops or don't pick up and you are left wondering what is going on. The traffic on Ellis is really bad and the buses are late all the time,” shares Amanda Spearman.
“It is a lot worse because it is more congested and sometimes the buses don't stop where they are supposed to stop,” says Shirley Kruchkowski, who then pointed out an example. “The bus down there at the end may end up being the the one that is supposed to be up here, but it can't get through because of the other busses and then you don't notice it is down there until it is too late and it is gone already.”
She says it also seems that buses are often running behind which has caused her to miss her connecting bus several times.
“There was a lot of confusion at the beginning. The signs said it was transitioning to Ellis street but the buses were still in the loop so I missed my bus. Then once the transition happened everyone was on Ellis and no one really knew where they were supposed to be waiting,” says Jessica Patterson who has limited her transit use since the change. She says the transition was not explained well, it was confusing and frustrating.
Others noted some confusion at the beginning, but nothing they couldn't handle.
“At first it was hard but I find it really easy now because they are all along Ellis and I think it is better. Sometimes the traffic can get really irritating, but there isn't much you can do about it,” says Brianna Floritto.
“I haven’t found it confusing, it is not that bad. They very first day was a little hectic, but now it is fine,” said Matthew Lobdell, who added his major grievance with the transit system is his bus route to Peachland. “I do notice that people are getting irritated a lot faster though.”
Despite the grumblings the City of Kelowna says no formal complaints have been made, a shock even to them.
“With the scope of change that has taken place, commonly we would have complaints, inquiries or questions and given that we haven't had any, we feel that it is relatively intuitive and that people are finding their way around,” says Kittmer. “But, that doesn't mean people are not finding it challenging dealing with the new exchange scenario."
He says they know traffic is bad and some users are confused, but they are trying their best to keep the impact low.
“There are detours associated with the construction that are forcing a significant number of vehicles onto Ellis Street, and with us also operating transit on Ellis it does pose a challenge. We are ending up with significant delays on some routes particularly during peak periods,” admits Kittmer. “Obviously our operators do their best to stay on schedule and we are all trying to make the best out of a difficult construction period and hopefully we are not impacting too many of the riders.”
Kittmer asks for the public's patience, promising it will all be worth it in the end.
“It will be a very beautiful exchange, a much nicer place, a much more inviting place for people to be,” says Kittmer. “It is short term pain for a long term gain and it is always difficult coming from one construction project, like Bernard, to another. We do ask for everyones patience and we hope we aren't impacting their travel too much.”
The Queensway bus loop is expected to reopen this fall.
For more details go to the transit website.