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New transit exchange opened in Rutland
The first of three new major transit faciltities in Kelowna has opened as part of the city's expansion of its RapidBus system.
The $1.5 million Rutland Transit Exchange on Shepherd road was offically opened by Mayor Walter Gray, two of the city's three MLAs, Steve Thomson and Norm Letnick, local MP Ron Cannan and the chief operating officer of B.C. Transit Mike Davis Tuesday.
The new exchange is part of a larger $4.5 million set of works that included improvements to pedestrian access in the area around the exchange and new bus pullouts on Highway 33.
In addition to the existing Queensway exchange downtown and the exchange at the UBCO campus, plans are in the works to create new major transit facilities at Okanagan College on KLO Road and in south Pandosy, as well as on the Westside
As part of the overall RapidBus plan, major transit facilities will also be built in Westbank and at Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna, in addition to two rapid bus stops along the highway in West Kelowna.
At the Rutland opening, Gray said the work is part of the city's push to get more people out of the their cars and riding transit.
"Kelowna is the most auto-centric city in Canada," he said. "It's not a proud badge."
But he said strides are being made here to try and change that.
The RapidBus system, which runs along the highway from from UBCO to Westbank and includes limited stops, also includes what the city is calling a "frequent transit network."
That network, which feeds the RapidBus system, includes routes that service south Pandosy, Rutland, Springfield Road and the Orchard Park Shopping Centre area in Kelowna.
The new Rutland exchange is part of the frequent transit network, and will provides commuters with direct access to RapidBus service. The network offers riders service at least every 15 minutes, or more frequently, during peak hours.
The exchange is also part of the city's revitalization program for the Rutland area, said Gray.
"This project is the first major component in the revitalization of the Rutland Town Centre," said the mayor. "The Rutland Transit Exchange and associated roadway and pedestrian improvements have made a tremendous improvement for the Rutland community, residents and businesses."
The new exchange and associated work was funded through a $1.4-million contribution from the federal gas tax Fund, $2 million from the province and $1.1 million from the city.
Monday's announcement also included the arrival of three new Vicinity buses for the local transit fleet.
The buses are 13-feet shorter than regular city buses, carry a total of 39 passengers (23 seated and 16 people standing), are more environmentally friendly, cheaper at $300,000 each instead of $500,000 for a full-sized bus and more fuel-efficient. Kelowna is one of six communities in B.C. to get the new buses.
In addition to being used inWest Kelonwa, one will also be used on the Black Mountain route that will use the new Rutland exchange.
Meanwhile, city staff say planning has already started on the new transit exchange at Okanagan College and construction could begin before the end of the year. Next year, the city plans to add a building at the Queensway exchange and build a new exchange in south Pandosy.
When complete, the RapidBus project will cost a total of $46 million, with the federal government contributing up to $10.9 million from the major infrastructure component of its Building Canada Fund with another $6 million coming from from the federal Gas Tax Fund. The province is contributing $23.9 million, while Kelowna is kicking in $5.2 million. West Kelowna is contributing land for its portion of the system.