Opinion

Letnick: New transit exchange opens

Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to participate in the grand opening of the new Rutland Transit Exchange and the announcement of three new vicinity buses to service Kelowna.

Many students, seniors, residents and commuters all rely on transit services every day to travel, commute and get to school.

That is why our government has invested more than $10 million to improving transit in the Kelowna area, since 2001. These investments help make transit more attractive, reduce congestion and encourage more people to ride the bus.

Like many B.C. communities, we have seen tremendous growth in Kelowna and with that growth is a need for more transit service.

Families, commuters and residents of Rutland will enjoy this new, modern exchange, with wide sidewalks, seating areas, artwork and decorative lighting.

All of this is part of the Rutland Transit Improvement Project, which includes three new bus pull-outs on Highway 33, pedestrian upgrades on Dougall Road, bus stop improvements between Dougall Rd and Rutland Road, and extending Shepherd Road to accommodate transit service.

The Rutland transit exchange forms part of Kelowna’s Frequent Transit Network. The frequent transit network is a fancy way of saying that passengers will get reliable and frequent transit service – with buses running every fifteen minutes during peak periods.

The new exchange will also provide passengers with direct access to the final phase of RapidBus when it’s complete in the fall of 2014.

Last month, the Premier was in Westbank to kickoff construction for RapidBus on the Westside, which includes extending the service from downtown to West Kelowna and the Westbank First Nation.

Once complete, the entire RapidBus route will provide 30 kilometres of service between UBCO and West Kelowna, saving people even more time.

Ridership has grown by almost 500,000 rides across the Kelowna regional transit system since RapidBus started in 2010, and is expected to grow even more with the expansion of RapidBus to the Westside.

This new exchange wouldn’t be possible without the $1.4 million contribution of the federal government, our provincial government, which contributed $2 million, and $1.1 million from the City of Kelowna. The investments were made in the transit exchange, and in the revitalization of the Rutland Town Centre.

There have been several major infrastructure improvements in our region in the past year.

Keeping our roads safe and efficient is important, but there’s more to improving and maintaining our infrastructure.

Effective public transit allows our communities to grow, attract further investment, and gives residents more options in their daily lives. The opening of the new transit exchange will mean a clean, safe place for residents to wait for the bus and more efficient transfers.

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