Changes to Kelowna’s transit system were brought forward to council Monday. (News staff/Victoria News)

Kelowna councillors question capacity of bus yard with new transit changes

The No. 8 University route is set for the biggest change, with additional hours of service

While some Kelowna councillors were happy Monday with a transit update affecting students, others were concerned about the state of the depot to house a growing number of buses.

The city will add 1,800 hours of service in September.

According to a report presented to council Monday, the most pressing issue for transit is service reliability and passenger growth on the route No. 8 University route, the highest performing route in the region.

City staff propose an increase to the midday service on weekends for the No. 8 route and weekday frequency every 20 minutes. Sundays would see an increase in afternoon service.

These new hours would come from a relocation of hours from the “under-performing” No. 15 Crawford route.

Coun. Luke Stack and Coun. Gail Given were happy to see the increase in hours to the No. 8 route, but there was also concern voiced about the transit yard.

“Is there any thought about where we’re going with that in the future?” Given asked.

Plans for a new facility will be up and running in the next five years, said Jerry Dombowsky, transit and programs manager with the city. Funding was also given to the old facility to ensure it will hold the city until a new project is available.

Coun. Ryan Donn asked about electric buses as an option for Kelowna in the next few years, citing an experiment in Victoria with electric buses.

With the planning of the new operations centre, staff said they will examine the possibilities.

“There’s no doubt that’s the future, at least from BC Transit’s executive and board level,” Dombowsky said.

READ MORE: Transit improvements coming to Kelowna regional system

The key challenges for Kelowna’s regional transit system is a need for weekday peak service improvements on the No. 8 route, improved service for Academy Way near UBC Okanagan and a solution for afternoon passenger pickups on the No. 4 Pandosy/UBCO express route outbound from the university.

Staff also propose other service options to add a new route via Academy Way to Reid’s Corner during peak periods, creation of an hourly service for the No. 13 Quail Ridge route (it’s currently 30 minutes) and shifting the No. 4 route off Highway 97 into the Rutland area to increase coverage and support the No. 8 route.

READ MORE: Kelowna transit contract negotiations underway

If approved by council’s at its regular meeting Monday, a detailed service design and implementation of the plan will start.

READ MORE: Poll: Changes coming to West Kelowna bus routes

READ MORE: Kelowna bus stops adopt electronic signage

READ MORE: Real-time transit information rolls into Kelowna

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