For just $5, bus riders can get from Penticton to Kelowna starting September 2019.
In a close vote Thursday, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen directors approved to set the fare for a new BC Transit commuter route from Penticton to Kelowna at $3 less than the recommendation from staff.
Leading the charge to offer the fare at $5 was Doug Holmes, a councillor for the District of Summerland.
“To me, $5 to Kelowna is a fare that’s going to get people excited. That’s a fare that would make people think I’m going to take this, that’s a good deal,” he said.
He questioned if the staff recommendation of $8 one-way was ripping residents off, noting that all the $8 fee offered additionally was one transfer into the Kelowna system which would cost a rider $2.50.
“If we went for the $5 option to buy a ticket, and they need to buy another ticket in Kelowna it would be $7.50… what we’re proposing is that everybody would pay $8 even if they just wanted to go downtown, so I don’t quite understand financially for our citizens why we would want to rip them off in this sense,” he said.
Mark Woods, manager of community services for the RDOS, said $8 fee was a BC Transit standard fee.
“Based on distance, $8 is an appropriate fee,” he said.
The decision to offer the route cheaper will mean a loss of projected revenue from $120,000 with an $8 fee to $75,000 for a $5 fee.
Bob Coyne, director Area H (Tulameen/Rural Princeton) didn’t mix words when he stated his opinion on the fees and offered he’d like to see the price at $12 for one-way.
“I won’t support the $5 option. That just makes the general taxpayer pay more money at the end of the day and we’re already paying for a very marginal service,” he said.
George Bush, Area B (Cawston) director said $8 was a deal considering the cost to drive.
“It probably costs me $150 to drive roundtrip to Kelowna and then $10 in parking fees.” he said. “Do we want more ridership if we’re losing more money.”
The regional district is still working with Kelowna, BC Transit and other municipalities on some of the details, which will come forward before the wheels start rolling on the new route.
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