RDOS reviews ridership recovery impacts on transportation due to the pandemic, some frustrated with lack of route coverage – Penticton News –

A slow and steady increase of transit riders are coming back to services in the Okanagan-Similkameen area, after a drastic decrease due to COVID-19, but the costs per rider have significantly increased.

According to a presentation from BC Transit given to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameenon Thursday, ridership provincewide is at 60 per cent of where it was the same week in 2019.

Service expansions previously approved went into effect on Jan. 3, on Route 70 (Kelowna/Penticton), Route 11 (West Bench/Penticton) and Route 30 (Summerland/Penticton).

“Our number one priority continues to be recovering ridership and we continue to focus on the customer experience with investments being made in new technologies,” said Chelsea Mossey, senior manager of government relations with BC Transit.

Within the 2022/23 budget, BC Transit is planning for a significant increase in fuel budget, the elimination of shared operating reserve and fixed costs increases largely driven by cleaning costs, along with other upgrades.

All the shared operating reserves were used up during the 2021 fiscal year and have been eliminated.

Upcoming initiatives will include an electronic fare collection system and NextRide, which runs an automated vehicle location technology.

BC Transit’s future action plan is continuing to work through phases of feedback from communities, local governments and stakeholders.

Open houses and online surveys held in November gathered information from the municipalities, but engagement outcomes dropped significantly compared to the public participation in 2015.

The 2015 plan brought in 2,500 participants, while the 2021 open houses had just 60-70 participants come out and low participation rates online.

Plans moving forward are to allow for more time for BC Transit and RDOS staff to collaborate to revise and redeploy the surveys, along with planning for other outreach activities.

But some of the directors brought up issues of a lack of service and options for feedback in their area while residents are still paying taxes towards the BC transit routes.

“The funding model that we’re presently under is terrible. And it all needs to be re-looked at. When you have the town of Princeton subsidizing three of our areas in the Regional District, that’s just not fair,” said Bob Coyne, the director for rural Princeton.

“I totally disagree with the funding scheme to begin with, as if we don’t recover anywhere near enough money. But that’s an argument for another day. But there’s no reason the residents of the town of Princeton should be subsidizing the entire bus route.”

BC Transit responded by explaining that discussions are in the works about the possibility of transferring that route 50 from the Town of Princeton annual operating agreement to annual operating agreement with the Regional District, along with expanding services in the area, which were outlined in the 2015 plan.

Coyne rebutted by saying that it’s time to get on with the studies and do some work.

“I’m just kind of getting tired of this,” he said.

Subrina Monteith, area director for Kaleden and Apex, chimed in with agreement for her area.

“The community of Apex, they’re wondering when they’re going to get a bus, when they’re going to get service. So they’re paying for a service, but they don’t have access,” she said, adding that they weren’t able to participate in the survey either.

Consultation for the transit plan will continue with revised general public engagement, especially in Princeton and Keremeos, which was delayed due to the major flooding in November .


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.