Report written by Janette Van Vianen Corporate Officer – Town of Osoyoos
South Okanagan Transit services Osoyoos to Penticton Monday through Friday and up until now had one trip on Mondays to Kelowna. The Town held the Operating Agreement with BC Transit for several years before the RODS created a service area and took over the Operating Agreement in 2017. Since that time the Director of Corporate Services has sat on the stakeholders committee of the Regional District to provide input into the services.
A transit future plan had been established a few years ago and one of the requests for growth was the need to have transit service from Penticton to Kelowna. Up until now, the only transit system taking people to Kelowna is the South Okanagan Transit service which only provides this service on Mondays.
BC Transit worked with the stakeholders group to come up with a transit regionalization plan to provide a regional service including providing transit from Penticton to Kelowna Mondays through Saturdays. During the discussions, staff continually expressed that the service from Osoyoos to Penticton not be significantly impacted and was assured each time that it would not.
Unfortunately, due to other work commitments, staff was unable to attend the past couple of stakeholders meetings. The new Rider’s Guide that will come into effect on September 3, 2019 was provided for review in the middle of July and it was at that time that staff was first alerted to the fact that the afternoon service from Osoyoos to Penticton would be changing. This will significantly impact the service levels currently provided to Osoyoos and Oliver residents. The current bus service times allow for 2 hours and 20 minutes between the bus arriving in Penticton and leaving back for Osoyoos. It is estimated on average 10 people per day take the afternoon bus.
SHORT LAY OVER IN PENTICTON – A REDUCTION IN SERVICE
Staff contacted the RDOS and BC Transit to express concern over these time changes as the afternoon schedule was changed to a point that would only allow one hour between the bus arriving in Penticton to its final departure back to Osoyoos each day. The change was concerning as this would not allow residents any time to attend appointments or do business in Penticton and would virtually be an empty bus headed back to Penticton in the afternoons.
BC Transit explained that the changes were necessary for budgetary reasons. The Town will be receiving a larger bus this year which has added additional costs to the system and the regional service to Kelowna has added costs associated to the system.
Staff is currently working with BC Transit and the RDOS on changing the schedule to allow for more layover time in Penticton to allow citizens adequate time to have appointments or do business. The Rider’s Guides are already being published and as of September 3, 2019, the system will be changing. At the time of writing this report, staff was still waiting to hear back from BC Transit and RDOS as to whether the proposed new schedule to add an additional 1 hour layover in Penticton in the morning and afternoon will be workable.
It will mean an additional cost of $4,000 – $8,000 for the South Okanagan system, however that amount is shared with the Town of Oliver and the RDOS areas serviced by the system and include Areas A, C, and D. Therefore the actual cost to provide a better overall service to the citizens in the area is minimal. The actual cost increase will be established as soon as the new schedule is created.
There is a slight possibility that the new proposed schedule will not be able to be implemented on September 3 and therefore the reduced service will take place until the new schedule is in place. The public may see some inconveniences in the aftemoon schedule until this is completed.