The Village of Keremeos played host to a visit from the province’s Transit Future Bus on September 10.
BC Transit turned the 40-foot decommissioned bus into a mobile interactive public consultation tool. Educational displays inside included a draft of the South Okanagan’s 25-year transit plan.
“This is the kick off point for public participation in future transit plans,” said Steve Harvard, Senior Regional Transit Manager for BC Transit.
“It’s our initial consultation with the local public to find out what is lacking in transit, and find out what we need to do to work out suitable transit programs, both within and between communities. We’re here to find out what the needs of the community are.”
Harvard met with local officials upon his arrival in Keremeos, including members of the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society. A handful of residents had also left comments on a bulletin board inside the bus.
“What I’ve been hearing is that people are requesting an additional trip into Penticton,” Harvard explained. “Similar to the existing service.” (Currently, a Handi Dart bus is available on Tuesdays, Thursdays, making one trip from Princeton through Keremeos to Penticton and returning the same day.)
Regionally, a better connection to Kelowna is also being requested, Harvard said.
“We’ve heard from the Interior Health Authority and local residents as well,” he said. “People would like to see connecting runs between the Princeton bus and local schedules in Penticton, timing the runs with the commuter schedule.”
Harvard said that he had also heard from mobile home residents in the Olalla area who were looking for service to their communities, in addition to farmworkers who were looking for regional transportation options.
Costs of future improvements in local transit service would be split three ways – one third through fare collection, one third from BC Transit and one third from local government, said BC Transit Transportation Planner Adriana McMullen, who was also aboard the bus.
The buses’ arrival at the Infocentre in Keremeos signaled the first public engagement process for developing the Okanagan Similkameen 25 year Transit Future Plan.
The plan is expected to create a vision for transit in the region, in addition to guiding and prioritizes future investment in the transit system.
It will also identify key transit corridors and the supporting local transit network and infrastructure, as well as encourage transit supportive land use.
The next step in the process will involve stakeholder workshops.