It’s may not be the answer many residents want, but it’s the responsible one.
There has been significant pressure on the Regional District of North Okanagan to put a third bus on the road between Vernon and Kelowna. And obviously there is a problem as many University of B.C. students are unable to get to classes because the existing vehicles are beyond capacity.
It is a situation that clearly needs addressing.
However, there has to be an understanding that public transportation comes at a cost.
Presently, local taxpayers are pumping about $120,000 per year into each of the existing buses. On top of that, B.C. Transit, a provincial agency, provides a similar amount. And the budget escalates annually because of salaries, maintenance and rising fuel costs.
Public transit is vital if we are to reduce greenhouse gases by getting vehicles off the road. Fewer vehicles also eases demands to maintain roads. However, the recession has placed significant restrictions on individuals and their ability to pay taxes. How much of a subsidy are taxpayers to provide for students wanting to get to school or people heading to Kelowna to shop or see their doctor?
So instead of simply agreeing to a third bus, RDNO directors have made a logical decision.
Two runs daily will be added between Vernon and Kelowna while UBC classes are in session from fall to spring. Four runs will be cut during the summer.
The plan is budget-neutral but what it may do is provide more space for students and others to climb aboard the bus.
Instead of making a radical, costly move, RDNO is demonstrating that it’s aware of community needs, including those paying the bill.