Kelowna's double-decker buses are gone, but not forgotten
Five years ago double-decker buses were roaming the streets of Kelowna, but today as transit gets more popular and buses are getting busier, and double-decker buses could be back in demand.
In 2018, Kelowna's double-decker buses were relocated to Victoria and ever since, Kelowna has solely relied on its conventional 40-foot, heavy-duty buses. The demand in Kelowna, at the time, was simply not high enough to keep them in the city.
"The decision was made in part because the high-capacity double-decker buses were being used less frequently in the Kelowna system than heavy-duty buses, and it was determined that the double-deckers were more needed in Victoria to meet capacity challenges," Jamie Weiss from BC Transit said in an emailed statement. "Due to their level of use, the double-decker buses proved even less fiscally responsible for the Kelowna Regional Transit System than standard buses and were relocated."
Decisions made by BC Transit, such as the decision to remove the double-decker buses, are made while keeping the whole province's needs in mind.
Transit users iNFOnews.ca spoke to said conventional buses get quite busy during rush hour on main routes and having bigger buses could be a good thing during those hours.
"I usually don't take the bus during rush hour, but the few times I did, it was so busy and cramped, I wish buses were running more often," Sarah Gardner said. "I remember when we had the double-decker buses... those would be really good for when the buses are really full."
Other transit users agree that during rush hour, buses get very crowded to the point where some riders have to wait for one or two buses to pass before they can get on.
BC Transit ridership numbers also showcase an increase in ridership in the Kelowna Regional Transit system.
While numbers dipped during COVID-19 in 2019, there were approximately 5.9 million riders in the year compared to nearly 6.3 million riders in 2023. The increase of approximately 380,000 passengers between 2019 and 2023, represents a bit over 1,000 more individuals taking the bus daily in Kelowna.
With the ridership increase the Kelowna Regional Transit system has seen, and will continue to see as the city grows, some riders would like to see the return of double-decker buses.
The good news is that BC Transit is not closed to the idea of bringing bigger buses back to the city as it grows.
"BC Transit is continually managing our province-wide fleet to ensure all transit systems have the appropriate vehicle sizes and would consider high-capacity buses for transit systems such as Kelowna in the future," Weiss said.
The Kelowna Regional Transit system goes from Penticton to Vernon and offers 31 routes and 100 buses. To find out more about ticket fares and different transit services, visit the BC Transit website here.
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