Crush of students puts the pressure on Kelowna Transit
By John McDonald
Students make up over 40 per cent of transit ridership in the Central Okanagan.
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September 04, 2015 - 6:30 PM
KELOWNA - They’re not yellow but considering how many students they carry, regular transit buses could almost be considered school buses.
Jerry Dombowsky, the City of Kelowna’s regional programs manager with responsiblity for transit, says moving students is a big part of what Kelowna Regional Transit does.
"Students of all ages make up a significant percentage of our riders, over 40 per cent our entire ridership base is students. Annual ridership is over five million so it’s significant.”
While some 5,500 students are eligible to ride the Central Okanagan school district yellow bus system, the other 16,000 are not and must make their own way to the district’s 43 schools.
He describes the first couple of weeks after the Labour Day long weekend as chaotic, as transit ramps up service for the school year.
“Many students are using transit for the first time. People are getting used to new schedules, figuring out their connections. It sorts itself out as people realize they may have to catch an earlier bus. It’s always a crush but it always settles down after a couple of weeks.”
Dombowsky says public transit fills in the gaps of the yellow bus system run by the Central Okanagan school district, providing bus service for students who live within within walk limits or travel for special programs.
“They systems are designed for different things. They serve areas our current system isn’t designed to serve. They will go into areas that we won’t or can’t. The buses are a different size. They can go where a standard transit bus couldn’t.”
Regular transit use by post-secondary students has also surged under the UPass program which turns a UBCO student card into a free bus pass, Dombowsky says.
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