At our Committee of the Whole meeting on August 9, 2011, staff from BC Transit presented to Peachland District Council details of the draft Transit Future Plan.
This document sets out plans for development of transit services in the Central Okanagan region over the next 25 years so as to improve service, enhance cost effectiveness, and increase ridership.
Overall, the plan seeks to increase public transit “mode share” (i.e. the proportion of journeys taken by public transit rather than by other means of transportation) to seven per cent. If that goal is achieved, the number of public transit rides taken will increase from 4.3 million per year to 16 million per year.
It is interesting to note that in some European cities, public transit mode share is as high as 70 per cent. It may seem therefore that striving for a seven per cent mode share is not particularly ambitious.
There are of course many differences to take into account, including: land use patterns, building density, transportation costs, geography and current infrastructure. However the gap is interesting and illustrates that getting us out of our cars and onto public transit will be no simple matter.
Despite the challenges and costs, the report reminds us that a continuous effort to improve transit services and increase ridership is essential if we are to reduce traffic congestion, reduce energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and help to ensure a sustainable and livable environment.
There are several components to the changes proposed. These include: full implementation of bus rapid transit service (BRT) between major destinations, frequent, reliable and predictable service on key corridors, route rationalization, introduction of a variety of vehicle types, tailor-made local solutions and significant financial investment so that by 2035, the total bus fleet will have increased from 95 to 235.
For Peachland, the priorities are to:
- Create a park and ride location where riders can leave a car or other vehicle and then conveniently board a bus – likely in the area of Peachland mall.
- Adjust the schedule on Route 22 (Peachland to West Kelowna) to better serve commuters by having a departure every 15 minutes during peak periods.
- Introduce a handyDART service to provide door to door pick-up and drop off for people with disabilities who are registered to use the service;
- Introduce a Dial-A-Ride service that will respond to user demand within Peachland, and will serve to identify future route structures and service frequency.
The proposed improvements to Route 22 between Peachland and West Kelowna will bring additional benefits to Peachland if the priorities identified for West Kelowna and Westbank First Nations are also addressed: improved timetable connectivity and extension of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service from UBC-O to Westbank Centre, being particularly important.
We look forward to supporting these transit improvement goals in concert with federal and provincial funding releases, and as municipal and regional budgets permit.
A final version of the report will be available in the near future.