All of the parts required for a small, regional transit system are now parked in place.
The final deal was cemented Thursday when the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen agreed to allow free transfers between its one-route Naramata transit system and the larger network operated by the City of Penticton.
At present, a person travelling from Naramata can go as far as Cherry Lane Shopping Centre for $2.25, but pays an additional $2 to hop on another bus in Penticton.
The new agreement will result in lost revenue of $2 for the city and the RDOS for each round trip taken on the two systems.
A staff report said it’s impossible to project how much that will cost the RDOS, but noted 8,533 riders used the Naramata system in 2013 and, “according to our service provider, the percentage of transfers to the city system is low.”
Mayor Garry Litke said the lost revenue is easily made up by the enhanced service available to residents.
“The benefit to the people who depend on the system is immense,” he said. “It’s a benefit to the citizens of Naramata and the businesses and services that operate in Penticton.”
City council voted earlier this month to work an identical deal with Summerland.
Tom Siddon, the RDOS director for Okanagan Falls-Kaleden, will be looking for a similar arrangement when a new transit service along Eastside Road is commissioned a year from now.
“I’m hoping this model would apply and Penticton would be supportive, because people who ride that service will have to get to the hospital, doctors’ offices or shopping centres,” he said.
The new transfer arrangements are expected to be in place soon and will be tested on a one-year trial basis.