Kelowna bus.—Image credit: Capital News file

Regional Transit celebrates 40 years of service

Kelowna - Systems has grown over the years to become second largest regional transit system in B.C.

The Central Okanagan’s transit system will celebrate 40 years of operation next week.

On July 4, BC Transit, along with regional partners Kelowna, West Kelowna. Lake Country, Peachland, the Westbank First Nation and the Regional District of Central Okanagan will celebrate the Kelowna Regional Transit System’s milestone, exactly four decades after the system rolled into service.

“Transit plays an increasingly important role in connecting people and places within the region in a sustainable way,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran of the upcoming anniversary.

“We look forward to celebrating 40 years of service and looking ahead to the future of transit in our community.”

Kelowna Transit—as it was known then—started in 1977, replacing a private company that operated a small bus service in the city called Lake Valley Transit.

Kelowna Regional Transit is now the second largest regional system in the province, carrying 4.9 million passengers last year and providing 160,000 hours of service.

The system has a four-decade history of improvement and expansion and innovation, including the introduction of custom HandyDart service here in 1981, extending service to West Kelowna in 1982 and to Lake Country and Peachland in 1992. A year later, it expanded again to bring service to the Glenmore area and Okanagan College.

In 2002 it added the now distinctive double-decker buses to its fleet and in 2010 the first phase of the RapidBus route 97—now the most popular route in the system. It connects Westbank with Okanagan College via Kelowna and Orchard Park Shopping Centre making a limited number of stops along Highway 97.

Tuesday’s event will mark the midway point in a year-long campaign to recognize the past, present and future role of the transit system in the community, say organizers.

“I congratulate everyone that has supported the delivery of effective and efficient transit services in Kelowna over the past 40 years,” said Manuel Achadinha, BC Transit chief executive officer and president. “BC Transit looks forward to continuing to work with the community in their effort to connect people to a more sustainable future.”

The 40th birthday bash will take place July 4 at 3 p.m. at the Queensway Transit Exchange in Kelowna.

To learn more about the service and infrastructure milestones of the local transit system from 1977 to today, B.C. Transit has created an interactive timeline for the Kelowna Regional Transit system at kelownaregionaltransittimeline.ca.