West Kelowna cuts back bus service

On Tuesday, West Kelowna opted to cut a total of 3,700 service hours in advance of the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit in 2014.

Starting Sept. 1, fewer buses will be roaming the streets of West Kelowna.

On Tuesday, council opted to cut a total of 3,700 service hours in advance of the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit in 2014.

Michelle Orfield, senior urban transportation planner with B.C. Transit, gave council information on West Kelowna service hours and ridership. She also gave suggestions of how the district can improve efficiency and increase cost recovery within its transit system.

She said that Routes 27, 28 and 29—which service Horizon, Smith Creek and Bear Creek, respectively—have the lowest ridership. She suggested adjusting service to weekday, peak hours only: A move that would save the district 1,250 service hours.

At Orfield’s last visit to council in February, a debate arose whether or not Glenrosa should continue to get service every 15 minutes during peak hours and 30 minutes during off peak hours.

On Tuesday, Orfield illustrated to council that although Route 21 Glenrosa accounted for 60 per cent of West Kelowna’s ridership, most passengers were getting off somewhere along Highway 97 and not continuing to ride the bus up into the actual Glenrosa neighbourhood.

Orfield concluded that current Glenrosa ridership doesn’t support the existing level of service; therefore, she suggested changing service to every 30 minutes during peak hours and every hour during off-peak hours.

Finally, Orfield recommended that night service be offered until 10 p.m. on Routes 20, 21 and 24, while the Highway 97 Express route also receives late night service Friday and Saturday.

In order to accommodate Bus Rapid Transit without having a tax impact on Westside residents, the district was required to reduce the number of annual service hours by 1,500.

Coun. Rick de Jong felt that the recommended cuts were “too frugal.”

“I think it is the wrong move,” said de Jong.

“I can understand we need to be cost conscious. . .but the feeder routes aren’t being supported. If the feeder routes aren’t going to be there, unless we’re prepared to put a park and ride in downtown Westbank, I don’t see how this is going to work.”

Coun. David Knowles was also against Orfield’s recommendations.

“You have to have your feeder routes to bring the people to the main route—that’s the way West Kelowna is built,” said Knowles.

“Why would we take a brand new Westbank service, with a multi-million dollar capital expenditure, and cut it back so severely? It makes no sense to me.”

But Coun. Duane Ophus said that the district couldn’t afford to continue paying for empty buses to circulate throughout the community.

“The reason this discussion about transit and routing started was (because) we were, and still are, running a whole bunch of empty buses all over the District of West Kelowna, operating at a level far in excess of what is reasonable for a community with the makeup of ours,” said Ophus.

Ophus mentioned that the recommendations are a good start towards creating a more efficient transit system.

Mayor Doug Findlater said that he is aware that some will be upset with the decision; however, he suggested it will better the majority of the community.

“Whatever we do on this, we will impact on someone in some way; there will be someone who is adversely affected and we’ll hear about it,” said Findlater.

“In the long term, far more are going to be positively affected by what we (are doing), getting into the Bus Rapid Transit and finding a way to do it in an affordable way.”

He added that although there are a few cuts that will have to be made, overall the level of transit service is improving in West Kelowna.

Council voted five to two in favour of Orfield’s recommendations. Knowles and de Jong were opposed.


Just Posted

Kelowna families honour the dead by releasing butterflies

The Nicholson matriarchs release 33 butterflies

Carr’s Landing Art Tour showcases local talent

14th annual tour in Lake Country July 28-29 and Aug. 4-5

The Okanagan Croatian Club all smiles after World Cup loss

They say winning second place brought Croatia to the world stage

East Shuswap Road wildfire’s fire line being controlled

Firefighters saved an eagle’s nest and eaglets while controlling fire lines

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Course veterans seize victory in Peach City Classic

The first place titles in this year’s triathlon belonged to returning competitors.

Vernon writers launch online workshop for teens, young adults

Storymakers’ Raise Your Voice workshop seeks to help women writers uncover and use voice

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Your reviews: John Fogerty rocks the South Okanagan

Photos and reviews from fans in Penticton at John Fogerty’s concert in the SOEC

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Most Read