Transit plan to link cities

Chelsea Powrie

BC Transit hosted a series of open houses in the South Okanagan over two days this week in order to hear from transit riders about plans for the upcoming Penticton-Kelowna bus route. 

The new route will see a BC Transit bus running twice daily, Monday to Friday, between the two cities. Service will commence in September of 2019, which is why efforts are now being made ahead of time to collect feedback from the public on potential routes and schedules. 

"We have a couple different options we're looking at, because there are a couple different markets we might be looking to serve including commuters," said Levi Megenbir, senior transit planner with BC Transit. "But then also, there's a second market of people who are trying to get to Kelowna for medical purposes, shopping, recreation."

A series of informational posters were displayed at each open house in Osoyoos, Princeton, Peachland, Penticton and Summerland, giving attendees the option to put a sticker on the scheduling option that made the most sense to their needs. 

Erick Thompson with the RDOS said he has seen overwhelmingly positive reactions to the open houses so far, and that the spectre of Greyhound, which ceased service in the South Okanagan in October, has been at the forefront of many people's minds. 

"It certainly does come into play as far as transit users are concerned, there's a private company that will be providing service from Kelowna down to Vancouver, so for transit users, they're asking questions like 'How can I get to Kelowna in time to take that service?'" Thompson said. 

Penticton resident Miriam Pender, who attended the open house, agreed that the new service would fill in a much-needed gap for seniors like herself used to using the Greyhound service to get to Kelowna. 

"It's important, now that Greyhound is gone, that we have transportation to get to and from Kelowna," she said. "We have such a huge senior population here, and many of them might have issues with health, so they need to go to appointments in Kelowna. The other things is travel. Who can get on a plane, how can we get out to a flight in Kelowna."

Full results from these open houses will be compiled and presented to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen in the spring of 2019. Anyone who missed the open houses can still have their voice heard online here until Dec. 14. 


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