Mayor, councillor complete transit challenge and promote free bus route for Summerlanders

Transit challenge complete

Two Summerland elected officials got in on the spirit of a current Transit Week Challenge, issued by the Okanagan Transit Alliance.

In January, the OTA and the Shuswap Climate Action Society issued the friendly challenge throughout the Okanagan region to coincide with transit week, Jan. 29 to Feb. 4.

The simple challenge, to residents as well as local politicians: Ride the bus.

When Mayor Doug Holmes and Coun. Richard Barkwill of Summerland heard about it, they decided they needed to get involved too, catching the BC Transit Route 30 bus from Summerland to Penticton Thursday.

The route is particularly important to them as representatives of Summerland, since council decided last year to provide it for free to Summerland residents.

"It's really important for people who have medical appointments and such," Barkwill said, adding it is helpful for students attending Okanagan College as well.

"And don't forget the environmental aspects of taking the bus rather than all those cars."

Summerland residents can simply show the Route 30 bus driver a piece of ID and they will not be required to pay.

'We're proud of this free transit service. And the take up has been great. We're having a survey going out to for people who ride the bus to see how it's working for them to make a decision, because it's a trial service for now," Holmes explained.

The bus driver for Holmes and Barkwill's trip Thursday told them anecdotally that he has seen a definite uptick in passengers.

Barkwill said he's not too familiar with riding buses, and praised the experience as easy and comfortable.

The free fare for Summerland residents on Route 30 is for one full year, beginning on April 22, 2023 and ending April 22, 2024, at which time council may discuss making it a permanent service.

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