Rural transit service plan rolling along

Summerland is another step closer to having a bus service now that the municipality and B.C. Transit have entered into an agreement.

Summerland is another step closer to having a bus service now that the municipality and B.C. Transit have entered into an agreement.

The agreement was approved on Monday.

The service will include four return trips each weekday and two weekday stops in Trout Creek. The Penticton Regional Hospital will be included as one of the stops.

Fares will be $2 for a trip within Summerland and $4 for a one-way trip to or from Penticton.

At present, Summerland has a paratransit service between Summerland and Penticton, operating one 20-passenger bus 2,250 hours a year.

This service, a door-to-door pickup, requires riders to make arrangements 24 hours in advance.

For a fixed-route service, the cost to the municipality is expected to run between $48,000 and $54,000 a year.

While the agreement has been approved, the details have yet to be determined.

At present, there are several options for service, depending on the destinations in Penticton and on the routes in Summerland.

All options are for four weekday trips, although the times of those trips has yet to be determined.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the service must be set up to allow working commuters to get to Penticton early enough to get to workplaces in the city and leaving late enough to allow them time to catch a return bus.

An evening service has also been suggested, although the time for such a service is not yet known.

Additional runs or additional days of service would require more money from the municipality.

The start date has not yet been finalized, but Perrino would like to see it begin in fall.

“Our hope is for September or October,” she said.

Once the bus system is in place, adjustments will be made to the schedule and the service.

“It’s going to take some time for this to get up and running,” she said.

Steve Harvard, senior regional transit manager with B.C. Transit, said the details such as the times when the buses will run have yet to be determined.

Her said the initial service will be for Monday to Friday during the day.

“My concern is that there are no weekends and no nights,” Perrino said.

Coun. Martin Van Alphen said the need for a bus service is greatest among seniors and among students, but a weekday daytime service will only benefit seniors.

“I don’t think we’re addressing our youths,” he said, adding that they would use the service in the evenings and on the weekends.

Harvard said the initial route can be expanded in the future if the demand exists.

“We have to get the service established,” he said.

Monday to Friday service is normally the highest demand for transit service.

Coun. Bruce Hallquist said it is important for council to consider the service carefully.

“I’m not as sold as the rest of you on this,” he said.

He added that the bus service between Peachland and Kelowna often has empty buses on its route.

The motion to sign the transit agreement was carried with Hallquist opposed.

Coun. Lloyd Christopherson was not present at the meeting.

Penticton Western News