I have been a public transit user since I retired in 2010, sold my car and learned about the B.C. bus pass program.
My original intent was to be environmentally aware of having one less car on the roads. I recently took my car-lessness one step further, by exchanging my B.C. Driver’s Licence for a B.C. identification card (free if you’re 65-plus).
There’s lots to learn about Penticton, and the Okanagan Valley, when travelling by public transit, and even more to learn about the people who use the system then even much more to learn as to how a city and politicians decide to create (or lack) a network of public bus services. Trying to make sense from what has evolved as the city’s network of roads, intersections and such, is a puzzlement.
Last October, I asked the City of Penticton to consider putting a crosswalk at Government Street and Okanagan Avenue, in light of the busyness of the intersection (Fortis and Westminster Rentals kitty-corner to each other) and because there are bus stops on both sides of Government Street. At the city’s suggestion, I submitted a traffic request form by early December and the best the city could do was to say thank you, and nothing more since then.
Further along, at an equally busy intersection, at Government Street and Penticton Avenue, where there’s a Shell gas station and dental clinic, there are no bus stops, and a crosswalk, and pedestrian-directed lights a short block north at Nelson Avenue. There are areas on the city streets where sidewalks either disappear or never existed, where having eyes in the back of my head would come in handy. Where the city has bus stop benches, they are often too dirty to sit on, for a variety of reasons. The one by Tim Hortons on Westminster Avenue is used as the “smoking lounge.”
All of which is solid evidence that car owners rule, with a city council making decisions about a service they either never use or rarely use.
I expect most of us have heard the phrase “build it and they will come.” However, when the building doesn’t happen, purely for political reasons, nothing happens and pedestrians are once again left with a poor service. But, it’s what Penticton has and my options are to make do with what’s out there, stay at home when there’s either no service or doesn’t serve the area where I want to go or buy a car with my meager pension.
It’s my choice to not opt for the latter option.