Kelowna buses are full, passengers frustrated and drivers are taking the heat: Union local president | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna buses are full, passengers frustrated and drivers are taking the heat: Union local president

Kelowna's transit system is under train.
Image Credit: File photo

KELOWNA - Word that the Central Okanagan transit expansion wasn’t going to happen didn’t just disappoint city councillors, who said as much at a recent council meeting.

Bus drivers are dealing with a frustrated ridership who are much more colourful when expressing their concerns.

“Ten days ago, when school started again, I myself have been bypassing 20 to 30 people a trip,” Scott Lovell, president of the local Amalgamated Transit Union, said.

“Listening to transit communications, it’s 100 to 200 passengers a day — the No. 8 is full, the 97 is full… those are just the college and the university, so people are getting immensely frustrated.”

Drivers, he said, are getting “reamed out” by the public in a way he’s not seen before. Angry gestures as they roll by busy bus stops have also become the norm and Lovell isn’t sure whether it will change with the 1,800-hour boost to the No. 8 University line implemented this month.

The 5,000-hour boost to its existing 150,000 hours of bus service annually will still be needed by 2020.

Instead, however, the increase will be 950 hours, a reduction of more than 80 per cent from the plan.

Both B.C. Transit and City staff said that there is no capacity at the current transit yard and that’s why there’s no expansion.

There are 108 buses parked, fuelled and maintained along with HandyDart buses at the depot off Enterprise Way. 

Council was told the depot is crowded and can’t accommodate the two new buses that a 5,000-service-hours boost would require.

Lovell doesn’t think that’s a fair reckoning of the situation, however, noting that bus drivers gave up staff parking to make room for the needed increase to the fleet.

A new transit yard is being sought, though it's years in the future. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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