Public transit service between Okanagan Falls and Penticton could be in place by this time next year.
The board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on Thursday voted to enter into an agreement with B.C. Transit to run the service.
As proposed, the new route would run along Eastside Road between the two communities and connect in Penticton to the No. 10 service to Naramata.
It’s expected the route will cost the RDOS $77,600 a year before revenue is subtracted.
Tom Siddon, the RDOS director for the area, estimates the service will be accessible to 2,000 homes in Okanagan Falls and along the east side of Skaha Lake, which would equal a property tax levy of about $39 each.
RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell cautioned, however, “we haven’t done the math,” and the first step in doing so will be creating a specific service area that will allow the RDOS to charge the right people.
During the consultation process, Siddon included a survey in the Skaha Matters newsletter, to which 131 people responded, only a slim majority of whom said they’d use transit service on either side of the lake.
RDOS community services manager Mark Woods said the “best-case scenario” would see the new bus running in about a year’s time.
After establishing the service area, the RDOS would then need to obtain voter assent and finalize a deal with B.C. Transit.
Woods said the service would likely be handled by a small bus that’s able to deviate from its route at the request of customers who may need a pickup at their door.
RDOS approval of the agreement with B.C. Transit was delayed this spring after Siddon asked for more time to consult with residents on the west side of Skaha Lake.
As a result of those talks, he said, community members in Kaleden have agreed to work to find a way to connect that community with a separate bus service between Osoyoos and Summerland that travels along Highway 97.