Linking in Greater West Bench and Sage Mesa to public transit systems.
For just $5, you can now travel from Penticton to Kelowna via public transit. Once in Kelowna, riders can purchase a transfer to Okanagan College, UBCO, Orchard Park Mall, Kelowna General Hospital, the Kelowna International Airport, etc.
This is great news for the South Okanagan Similkameen. Our neighbours to the south (Oliver, Osoyoos, Similkameen, etc.) are also linked into the route. And, because BC Transit heavily subsidizes rural transit routes, we are able to expand travel options throughout our region for more residents at a very reduced local cost.
Greater West Bench / Sage Mesa now has an opportunity to link into Route 70, the City of Penticton, Summerland District and the RDOS regional transit systems.
This isn't the first time the community has discussed the issue (see below). And while the idea has been well-supported before, it has been some time since the community has weighed in.
So, we want to ensure that residents are still in favour of the big idea of public transit for Greater West Bench / Sage Mesa. We need to indicate that support (or lack of) by the end of September to BC Transit hence the public meeting next Wednesday, September 18 at 7:00 - 8:00pm at West Bench Elementary.
Please attend the meeting if you can. We will also offer an opportunity for residents to weigh-in via online after the public meeting until Wednesday, September 25. Please note, more public consultation around routes, schedules and final costs will occur before any new service is initiated in the community.
We anticipate the community's share of the cost to bring the service to Greater West Bench / Sage Mesa to be $15,500 which works out to be about $26/property. BC Transit is putting in around $18,000. The service, if the community agrees, will commence in September 2020.
Please let me know if you have any questions. You can also contact Apollo (details below). He will lead much of the community discussion around routes and schedules.
Apollo Figueiredo ● Planner, Community Services - Transit & Parks
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen
101 Martin Street, Penticton, BC V2A 5J9
p. 250.490.4238 ● firstname.lastname@example.org
PS - if you visit the calendar page on this site, you will find a link to download the meeting into your calendar... I hope it works... let me know : )
Public Transit History for Greater West Bench and Sage Mesa.
Here is what I have gather from chatting with RDOS staff and past Director Brydon's blog:
The Greater West Bench had a bus route as some point... perhaps in the 80s? But, the service was discontinued.
The community revisited the issue in 2006 when BC Transit conducted a local Transit Study.
In 2008, the RDOS conducted a resident survey to assess the willingness of residents to pay for public transit.
From the 2008 survey and the subsequent RDOS 2010 Resident Survey, residents made it clear that they would like a public transit service.
In 2006, the incremental local subsidy required to run a Penticton bus to the Greater West Bench was estimated at $23,000 per year. This works out to about $38 per house.
In the 2008 survey, about 37% of residents reported they are willing to pay at least $40/year to subsidize transit.
From my understanding, Greater West Bench was very close to getting a bus route in 2012. But changes provincially side-tracked the initiative. Greater West Bench and Sage Mesa has been waiting since then to get back on BC Transit's radar and now, here we are. If the community declines to participate in the service it will most likely be another 6 - 8 year wait to get back to the top of BC Transit's queue.