Kelowna council modifies shopper shuttle bus route: riders not happy

The city's compromise on the future of the no. 9 shopper's shuttle bus route has hit a road block in the form of opposition from the riders who lobbied to save it.

Kelowna city council has voted to reinstate a modified version of the route, reducing the number of runs to four from seven each day, with runs going between 11:40 a.m. and 2:40 p.m. The route, which goes from downtown to Orchard Park via the the Parkinson Recreation Centre will no longer continue on past Walmart on Banks Road.

As part of its approval of the reinstated route, council asked to staff to discuss with B.C. Transit planners moving the four-hour block to start earlier in the day and end earlier.

Part of the decision to reinstate a modified version of the route was to run it outside of peak transit hours - the morning and afternoon rush hours.

But the new route does not sit well with many of the seniors who use it.

According to many riders, some of whom who protested  outside Kelowna City Hall prior to council's regular weekly meeting Monday, the new route is not good enough.

"We are very angry and frustrated," said senior Muriel Temple, who described herself as partially blind and as a result would have difficulty getting a different bus elesewhere.

She said the new route not only makes it difficult to go to doctor's appointments but also means changing buses at Orchard Park to get to Walmart.

City regional programs manager Jerry Dombrowsky said the reinstated route is the best the city can do without adding to the transit budget.

As he gave his presentation, some of the seniors inthe audience grew more and more agitated, disagreeing with what was being said but not allowed to speak directly to council during the meeting.

Last month, council approved a provisional budget that kept the average tax increase to  one-tenth of one per cent and Mayor Walter Gray said the city had to keep to that with any changes being made now.

The riders also reject use of the no. 10 bus, which the city says stops close to many of the no. 9 route stops because not only is it difficult for some to get to those stops because of a hill on part of the route, no. 10 buses are often crowded and there time when there is no room for seniors' walkers. The no. 10 route is one of the busiest in the city.

In addition to reinstating part of the no. 9 shopper shuttle, the city is also reinstating the Saturday service of the no. 12 McCulloch route.

In the provisional budget, the city saved itself $250,000 of  transit costs and added service in the Quail Ridge area, late night service for UBCO and service to the H2O Aquatic centre in the Mission.

The change in the no.9 route is slated to start March 25.





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