Wiltse transit not possible this year

Expanded transit service to the Wiltse or Sendero Canyon areas is on the City of Penticton’s radar.

Expanded transit service to the Wiltse or Sendero Canyon areas is on the City of Penticton’s radar, but it is still only a future possibility.

Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations for the city, told council last week that B.C. Transit had notified him recently there was funding available for transit expansion.

“They have asked us what improvements we want to make to our system in 2017-2018,” said Moroziuk, adding that B.C. Transit wants to know which communities are interested in expansion in advance of preparing their 2017-18 budget.

Moroziuk said B.C. Transit already has three Penticton initiatives, two that come from the 2012 master plan for transit and another from inter-community transit work being developed in cooperation with the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen.

“In addition, I asked them about the Wiltse request, because we have had requests for transit in that area before. I also asked them to look into the Sendero,” said Moroziuk.

Moroziuk’s comments came after a plea from Wiltse resident John Mueck, who submitted a 109-signature petition to council last month.

Mueck said the overriding objective for transit planning is to provide transportation for people who have no other mode of transport, in particular people with disabilities and seniors.

“Under the guidance of the B.C. Transit guidelines, the Wiltse petition would seem to be very easy, because all the requirements are here. We have senior population, we have some people with disabilities,” said Mueck.

Mueck also suggested that one of the current Penticton transit priorities, increasing the frequency on the No. 5 Main Street route, could be delayed. That bus currently operates on a 30-minute cycle.

“The service provided along Main Street by that bus line seems to be sufficient. We have made some observations and we have found the average passenger count on the bus line is between six and eight people,” said Mueck.

Committing funding to the Main Street route could take away funding for other projects, according to Mueck, particularly the Wiltse area.

“Wiltse has waited a long time for a decision on bus services,” said Mueck.

Moroziuk said that expanding service up the hill into Wiltse area wasn’t a possibility for this year.

“Unless council wanted to make a budget amendment, you couldn’t do that for 2016,” said Moroziuk. “Even then, I don’t think you could do it, because it is probably going to take B.C. Transit a year to 16 months to get a bus, and you would definitely need another bus to provide that service.”