New Highway 97 through Lake Country won’t feature any bus routes

BC Transit opts to keep busses rolling along Pelmewash Parkway instead of moving to new highway

A new high-speed highway is great for commuters but not for those riding the bus.

B.C. Transit officials have told the Regional District of North Okanagan board that there’s no plans to move the UBC transit route from Pelmewash Parkway to the new Highway 97 in Lake Country.

“We did an analysis of the run times and we found that using Pelmewash Parkway to the new highway is almost a wash,” said Matthew Boyd, a senior transit planner.

“Students are getting there at the same time.”

Boyd says that Pelmewash Parkway, the old highway along Wood Lake, is also safer than the new highway because of slower speeds and less traffic.

In order to improve service, some options are being considered, including possibly initiating an express route between Vernon and UBC.  It would have no stops and would cut the trip down by 13 minutes.

However, there could be a downside if an express system proceeds as it could impact ridership on the existing service.

“People need to get in and out of Oyama and to get to the airport,” said Boyd, adding there doesn’t appear to be a current need for an express bus.

A 10-day ridership survey in October had an average load of 40 passengers from Vernon to UBC from 7 to 8 a.m. and 35 passengers from UBC to Vernon from 4 to 5 p.m.

The bus can hold 67 people, including 43 seated.

The survey also showed that there were 29 rides from Oyama to UBC and 15 rides from Oyama to Vernon.

Of the 1,572 riders over the 10 days, 69.6 per cent were from Vernon, 23 per cent from Coldstream and 7.5 per cent from the rest of the North Okanagan. Six per cent of the riders were from Lake Country, 8.8 per cent from Kelowna, 1.5 per cent unknown and 2.6 per cent not from the Central or North Okanagan.