One of seven new bus stations along Highway 97 to accommodate the RapidBus system. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)
One of seven new bus stations along Highway 97 to accommodate the RapidBus system. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)

New RapidBus Transit system unveiled

by - Story: 56673

Kelowna's new $21.5M Bus Rapid Transit system was unveiled Wednesday.

Phase One of what is known as RapidBus BC will connect downtown Kelowna with UBC Okanagan by providing service every 15 minutes during peak travelling time along Highway 97.

It also offers enhanced service to Rutland, with bus service every 15 minutes during peak times, as well as providing more direct options for travel to Okanagan College, Kelowna General Hospital and Mission Centre.

The new service will begin Sunday, September 5.

"We've been waiting quite some time for this official announcement and we're very excited," says Kelowna Mayor, Sharon Shepherd.

Along with the added service, seven new bus bays have been built along Harvey Avenue.

"It's about getting people on and off the buses quickly, safely and making sure they are accessible. That's the intention of the new bus stops," adds Shepherd.

"This is a separate bus system that is only going to move along Highway 97."

The additional seven bus stations along Highway 97 feature low flooring for improved accessibility. The design is also based on the province's wood-first initiative.

In addition to the the unveiling of phase one, it was also announced that funding for phase two of the three phase project has been secured.

The second phase includes extension of the RapidBus service to West Kelowna, as well as additional improvements in Kelowna.

The second expansion phase will cost $43M with the Government of Canada giving up to $10.9M through the Building Canada Fund and an additional $4.6M through the gas tax fund.

The province will kick in $24M, the City of Kelowna $4.1M, while the District of West Kelowna will contribute land.

The timing of the project, as well as specific details of improvements within the City of Kelowna, are expected to be discussed in council chambers later this month.

West Kelowna Mayor, Doug Findlater also took part in Wednesday's announcement.

He says it has a long way to go before the RapidBus system can come to West Kelowna.

"We have to determine locations for exchanges and develop them. The question will be with town planning exercises underway for Westbank Town Centre and one for the Boucherie area at some point, do we make temporary investments to make it work or do we think long term," says Findlater.

"We have the framework to work with now with the federal and provincial money. We have committed to providing the land for the exchanges that we will have. We'll have two, one in the Boucherie area and one in the Westbank area."

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