Penticton bus riders can expect to see a 25 cent increase this summer to $2.25 per local trip.
The rise in fares is expected sometime in July when the regional transit system comes online.
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit raised concerns at the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen meeting last week that ridership might decline with an increase in fares causing a decrease in revenue to support the system. Daniel Pizarro, senior regional transit manager for B.C. Transit said studies have shown ridership might slightly decrease in the beginning of a new fare structure, but expected growth in ridership offsets any decrease.
“One of the things to take into consideration is that it’s been a long time since there has been any increase in general,” he said.
The fare strategy includes a local routes fee (inside Penticton for example) and a regional route fare (from Keremeos to Penticton). All local fares will be $2.25 and regional $4. Travelling from Osoyoos to Kelowna, the farthest southern community to the farthest in the north will cost $11.
“It was very confusing to move around regionally, not just regionally locally as well, from Osoyoos to Penticton there are 10 to 12 different fares depending on how far you went,” Pizarro said.
Peter Waterman, Mayor of Summerland, voiced concerns about changes to routes and times of buses travelling between his community and Penticton.
“I think it’s a chicken and egg thing. Without any kind of scheduling expansion you won’t see an increase of ridership,” he said.
Pizarro said he understood there was a request to add or change the time of the bus leaving Summerland for Penticton in the afternoon to try and accommodate young people’s work schedules. He said schedules are approved by the province every year and B.C. Transit staff works with local government staff to make changes.
“The transit future plan sets out different phases of expansion,” he said.
A new regional riders guide that includes schedules and information on all five systems and contact information for customers will be released later this year.
The regional transit plan will go out to boards and councils in March for input and endorsement.
Any adjustments will be made before implementation in July.