If you could buy a prepaid bus pass that covered all members of your household at a reduced price for an entire year, would you do it? And would you use it?
Those are two of the questions Glenmore residents are being asked as part of a research project being done over the next few months in the area.
The aim behind the introduction of this pilot project for their neighbourhood is to gather research on urban transportation use to help find solutions to issues such as reducing road congestion, vehicle pollution and promoting traffic safety.
The joint initiative by the City of Kelowna and UBCO’s engineering school will seek public input at design workshops scheduled for July 19, Aug. 16 and Sept. 20.
The city wants to promote sustainable transportation options in the Glenmore area as part of its goal to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 33 per cent of 2007 levels by 2020. Given the increases since 2007, the reduction works out be 43 per cent from current levels.
The workshops for the ComPASS program, similar to the U-Pass transit pass available for students at UBCO, will be held behind Glenmore Elementary School by the portables, from 6 to 9 p.m.
According to Gord Lovegrove, of UBCO’s engineering school, the intent of the ComPASS project is to examine sustainable transportation options so residents can reduce their use of single-occupancy vehicles.
That, in turn, could lead to community-wide benefits such as the reduction of vehicle collisions and congestion, as well as improving air quality and improving community overall health.
“Kelowna has the highest vehicle ownership and one of the highest vehicle kilometres travelled daily per capita in Canada,” said Lovegrove, a professor with the engineering school.
Lovegrove worked on a study while at the Vancouver UBC campus that led to a similar community transit pass in Burnaby’s UniverCity area around Simon Fraser University. “To alleviate the issues of congestion, road safety and poor air quality, we are surveying (Glenmore) residents about a community U-Pass, to be called ComPASS, to gauge their interest in more sustainable travel options,” he said.
ComPASS would provide all members of a household with unlimited transit passes at one affordable price.
Lovegrove said a similar program in Boulder, Co., has households pay $10 to $15 per month, and has grown from an initial 50 households to more than 1,000.
The Burnaby program is a little different, he said, with passes there costing $30 per person, per month.
The exact price and the design of the program will result from the information gathered at the workshops.
Lovegrove said ComPASS could also include additional features such as guaranteed rides home in emergencies, bicycle tune-ups, recreation centre passes, merchant discounts among other features, depending on the response to an online survey and subsequent analysis that will accompany the workshop meetings.
“It is up to the Glenmore community to provide their input towards the ComPASS design,” he said.
As for the impact on the transit system, the thought is that if more passes can be sold at a reduced price that meets or exceeds the current revenue generated from the transit pass sales in the area, the program would not be a financial blow to the system.
Lovegrove said the local transit operator and B.C Transit are supportive of the proposed program.
Michelle Kam, sustainability coordinator for the city, said with 65 per cent of the city’s community greenhouse gas emissions coming from on-road traffic, getting more people to ride the bus fits in with Kelowna’s plans.
The bus route through Glenmore is one of the busiest for outlying areas of the city, but the area was chosen in part because it has a very active community membership.
The idea for the research project there came from discussions over a number of years that the city has had with Glenmore residents on the issue of more sustainable and safer access routes for Glenmore Elementary School students.
The $15,000 UBC research project is being financed by the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and a UBC sustainable community development grant.
A report on the research findings recommending a design for the ComPASS program will be completed by Sept. 30.
If adopted by city council, a pilot project could start next spring.
If residents cannot attend the workshops but still want to provide input, they are encouraged to complete the Glenmore ComPASS online survey at www.surveyfeedback.ca/surveys/wsb.dll/s/1g113a.