By DALE BOYD
Special to OsoyoosToday
Integrated public transit systems delivering riders from Osoyoos to Kelowna could be in place by September 2019.
BC Transit representatives Rob Williams and Matthew Boyd put forward that timeline — described as the best-case scenario — during a meeting Thursday with the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
Hurdles include getting buy-in from local governments and hammering out a memorandum of understanding, although there seems to be a willingness from the RDOS to make the service work.
“This board has spent years talking about the need for service to Kelowna,” said chairwoman and Area E (Naramata) Director Karla Kozakevich. “Our constituents cannot get there for medical appointments.
“I think we’d be doing a huge disservice to our citizens to not try and make this happen.”
The service from Penticton is tentatively set to begin with two round trips each weekday — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — and would tie into existing routes.
“We’re not married to that amount if there is a demand for increased service,” Mr. Williams told the board.
“If there’s an interest in expanding from two, to four, to six round trips per weekday, or evening service or weekend service, then we can certainly work with you to establish those numbers.”
The scope of the project will be determined by which communities opt in, and the project will be scalable based on interest.
Should all RDOS members buy in, communities would pitch in amounts ranging from $1,103 in Area B (Cawston) to $64,730 in Penticton, roughly a $3.00 per household increase in taxes.
Osoyoos would pay $13,080 ($2.49 per household) under the proposed plan, which would see BC Transit cover a one-third share of the total cost.
Fares would range from $5 to $15.
“If I want to get a private shuttle and go to Kelowna it’s about $100. So I think this service will be enormously popular with the elderly and young people,” said Area F (West Bench) Director Michael Brydon.
“I think it’s going to be great as long as the taxpayers go for it. Since BC Transit is kicking in so much, why wouldn’t they?” Mr. Brydon said.
He expects the service to go ahead, as long as Penticton, Summerland, Oliver and Osoyoos all get on board.
Where the routes and stops will end up would likely be determined through public and government consultation conducted in the spring and summer of 2019.
BC Transit is looking to return before the RDOS board with a memorandum of understanding in April.
Dale Boyd is a writer with the Penticton Herald. OsoyoosToday and the Herald share an editorial services agreement.