Penticton resident calls for better bus service

Brigid Kemp would love nothing more to take the bus down to Okanagan Lake and enjoy an evening stroll along the beach.

Brigid Kemp checks out a bus schedule. She is concerned that Penticton Transit needs to run later into the evenings.

Brigid Kemp checks out a bus schedule. She is concerned that Penticton Transit needs to run later into the evenings.

Brigid Kemp would love nothing more to take the bus down to Okanagan Lake and enjoy an evening stroll along the beach.

Only thing is, there is no bus to catch.

“If you could call on the B.C. government to reinstate funds so that if I want to go down to the beautiful west end of Lakeshore (Drive), I could do that in the evening,” she said, at the regular council meeting held on April 20. “Right now there’s no transit after 5:30 p.m.”

Kemp said that she can only travel to that area during the daytime.

“One of the things that I did when I retired and moved back to Penticton, knowing there was transit here, I decided that it was more important for me to put whatever senior pension I have to spend it in my community and not on running a car.”

Mitch Moroziuk, director of operation, said that extending the Lakeshore Route by an hour is an option, but that idea didn’t arise from the Penticton Service Transit Review – which was the city’s most recent analysis of its transit from August 2012.

Another idea to accommodate later access to Lakeshore Drive would be to remap the route. However, stakeholders commenting on the 2012 transit review were hoping the see the length of the route reduced.

“The only recommendation (on the night route) was that we actually make it shorter so that it’s quicker for people to get around,” he said. “Because it’s a long, circuitous route.”

And the night route is the city’s worst performing route, he said. The city’s cost-analysis found that the average cost-per-ride is $5, where on the night route, it’s $13 per ride.

“That’s almost three times. It’s not an efficient route to operate because you don’t get the ridership.”

From the report, he said that it was “indicated clearly and often that this route is not performing. It is by far the most expensive route to operate in terms of cost to the municipality.”

The majority of stakeholders who did take part in the review sought out earlier start times for Sunday service, which Moroziuk said was implemented last year.

An additional route on Sundays was the city’s next priority, he said, but BC Transit wasn’t successful in receiving provincial funding for it.

“As it sits right now their budgets are frozen at the same service level.”

The city also looked at increasing the frequency of the Number 5 Main Street route from 30 minutes to 20.

Moroziuk said that when the city does have the resources to improve its transit service, it will invest in the routes it anticipates to be most active.

“If I’m going to put money in the transit system where do I put it — on a route that I’m probably going to see some increases, or somewhere I’m probably not?”

He said the idea of fare increases has been considered, but it is something that would normally be implemented concurrently with a service enhancement. Also, a modest increase to the $2 fare would only raise the revenue by a small fraction of the total operating budget.

Transit service reviews are generally held every five years, Moroziuk said, but they can be pointless to do during spending freezes at BC Transit.