Penticton hooks up transit with Naramata, Summerland

Penticton city council has told city staff to go ahead with a proposal expanding the reach of transit in the area by creating transfer agreements with Summerland and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen system in Naramata.

Under the proposal, a rider using Penticton Transit  and wanting to transfer to the Summerland bus would pay $2 for Penticton transit then show the transfer and pay an additional $2 to board the Summerland bus.

That, according to Mitch Moroziuk, the city’s director of operations, would result in Penticton and Summerland each receiving $2 and the rider saving $2. Reversing the route, the rider would pay $4 to board the Summerland bus, then just show the transfer to use the Penticton system.

The Naramata transfer would function likewise, though the rider would only be paying a 25 cent premium to board the RDOS bus. A round trip under either system would result in a $2 revenue loss for both the city and the connecting system.

In his report, Moroziuk noted there are both benefits and drawbacks to transfers. The customer experience can be improved by the transit system being more seamless and riders getting better value on their fare. A second and more important benefit, according to Moroziuk, is the reduced cost for people visiting medical facilities in Summerland or Penticton. But diligence is going to be required on the part of the driver to check transfers and both parties will lose revenue.

Moroziuk suggested council approve a one-year trial for the transfer exchanges, adding that without putting it into practice, it would not be possible to put an exact number on the amount of revenue the city might use.

Ridership on the Summerland service, which just started in October 2013, is about 60 passengers per day, or 15,600 per year. Assuming  10 per cent of those riders would use the transfers, Moroziuk calculated the city would lose about $3,120 of its transit revenue from that run. For the Naramata exchange, he estimates a $2,559 revenue loss.

Summerland council already gave its approval to an inter-jurisdictional transfer system, on Nov. 25, 2013. Penticton council gave unanimous approval to both proposals at its regular meeting Feb. 3.

“It is kind of a no-brainer. It’s about whether you should have to pay to go over the imaginary line between Penticton and Naramata, or Summerland,” said Coun. Wes Hopkin. “We shouldn’t be nickel and diming people that want to come to our community or want to go to regional communities. The idea of public transit is that you improve the access and availability of it.”


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