Kelowna petition to fight for improved transit
The Okanagan Transit Alliance is seeking the public’s help to improve transit in the region, and all you need to do is sign their petition.
Kirstin Pulles, a founding member of the Alliance, says improving public transportation addresses many different issues at once.
“It's a climate change solution that also addresses a lot of other things. It helps lower income people have a better way to get around the city,” she says. “It's air quality, it's health, getting tourists around, getting people to work, helping people with affordability.”
The Alliance is a new organization fighting to improve transit in the Okanagan. They say they need people’s support on four major initiatives to sway local and provincial governments to put up the money.
The first objective is to bring control of the transit system back to local governments. Currently the region’s public transit is contracted out to TransDev, a private French company.
However, TransDev’s contract ends in March 2024. The Alliance wants to prevent the contract’s renewal so local cities can control their own buses.
“The issue that's the most time-pressing is getting rid of this private management model,” Pulles says. “It makes it much harder to figure out who's accountable in the system, who can make decisions on how we can improve it.”
The petition also aims to make transit free for anyone under 18. At the moment anyone under 12 can ride for free, but the Alliance says adding free transit for teenagers could have a range of positive impacts on the city’s youth.
“It's gonna help kids to access the city, get jobs, have hobbies, play sports, all those things that make our community thrive,” she says.
HandyDart is a service specifically for those with mobility challenges who cannot use regular public transport. For now HandyDart does not operate on Sundays or holidays, leaving those who rely on the service without a way to get around.
The Alliance wants HandyDart to run every day so those with mobility difficulties can get around all year round.
“It's insane that it's not accessible seven days a week like that. It just seems like it's discriminatory and it also needs to change,” Pulles says.
The Alliance also wants to expand Kelowna’s bus yard so the city can get more buses on the road.
The number of buses on the road is limited by the number of buses which can be stored in Kelowna’s bus depot, expanding the depot would allow for more buses on the street.
Pulles says the group is always looking for new members to give input and volunteer their time.
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