Ridership needs to grow for South Okanagan to Kelowna bus route to go

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PENTICTON - Greyhound’s recent announcement of its intention to scale back local bus routes could benefit the South Okanagan Similkameen Transit System by increasing demand for its valley run to Kelowna.

Route 60, which has been under the administration of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, and operated by the South Okanagan Similkameen Transit System since April 2017, connects Kelowna with the South Okanagan on a Monday-only run at present.

Penticton resident Tracy Coulter recently used Route 60 to travel to Kelowna. 

“It was my first time taking it, and it was pretty handy and relatively easy to travel,” Tracey Coulter says.

Coulter says the bus was “fairly full,” with around 15 to 20 people on it. She says she found it convenient but thinks the service would be more useful it it ran more often through the week.

She says she’s ridden Greyhound to Kelowna, and says BC Transit is roughly $15 cheaper, at $11 each way.

Coulter used the service to access Kelowna medical specialists, which is the main reason why the bus only runs on Mondays at this time.

Regional district spokesperson Candice Gartner says the route is offered as part of the Health Connections Program, and funded in part by the Interior Health Authority. She says under this arrangement, those with medical appointments have priority, but everyone is eligible to use the bus service.

“Based on the annual performance summary of 2016, we know the number of passenger trips for the South Okanagan Transit System (Routes 40 and 60) were around 7,000,” says Gartner, adding data for 2017 is currently being compiled.

“We have reason to believe the numbers have increased. The route has become a popular mode of transportation for post-secondary students, seniors and individuals who are commuting to work,” she says.

Gartner says in the coming months, the regional district will be reaching out to local communities seeking further input on transit needs.

For further details, see the B.C. Transit website.


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