April 01, 2015 - 11:11 AM
PENTICTON - If you like the new bus service linking Okanagan Falls and east Skaha Lake to Penticton, you should probably get on it—it's under review.
Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Project Coordinator Lindsay Bourque says the regional district has been receiving “lots of feedback” from those using the new bus route which began service along the east side of Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls on Jan. 19, 2015. It's subject to a six month review in July but so far, Bourque says the regional district is pleased with ridership.
“We were seeing 50 rides a day while the ridership promotion was on when the service first began, but those numbers have since dropped off,” Bourque said. She didn’t have exact numbers available, but estimated approximately 30 users per day are using the system. “That’s really great for a rural route."
Transit in Okanagan Falls was recognized as a priority while planning for the community’s aging population. Bourque said it was fortunate they could develop the area’s regional transit plan at the same time the new route was introduced because there was increased awareness and support for the route.
The regional district is also seeking volunteers to assist in the “bus buddy” program, a system that pairs a rider with a volunteer who teaches them how to use the system.
“It can be intimidating for many to ride the bus for the first few times. The bus buddy program is proving to be extremely popular in Okanagan Falls. There is a waiting list for bus buddies right now,” Bourque says.
Ridership to date has been a combination of seniors and students. The new route consists of five local trips around the community of Okanagan Falls itself, and five trips to Penticton. On three morning runs, a circuit is also made into the Heritage Hills area, while two runs make the additional run up Heritage Hills in the evening.
Bourque said the regional district is also working to make the route more “seamless” by matching fees with those of Penticton transit.
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