District of Lake Country chief financial officer Stephen Banmen along with Gordon Long

District of Lake Country chief financial officer Stephen Banmen along with Gordon Long

New transit line to expand service in Lake Country come September

New bus route will link the Lake's subdivision with the Lake Country town centre

A new transit line linking the Lake’s subdivision and Lake Country’s town centre will cost the District of Lake Country an estimated $100,000 per year when its fully operational.

B.C. Transit and the District of Lake Country introduced the new line earlier this month at a public meeting in the Lake’s subdivision where more than 30 folks came out to get information on the line.

“Everyone was really positive, saying this was a good start,” said Stephen Banmen, District of Lake Country chief financial officer. “Some of the feedback we received was about wanting a couple more trips during the midday, maybe another in the evening and some consideration for weekend service.”

The new transit line is set to begin operation in Lake Country on Sept. 2, operating from Monday to Friday each week with seven trips each morning (6:40 to 10 a.m.) and 10 trips in the afternoon (2 until 7 p.m.).

“It’s an introductory level of service that stops in the middle of the day and doesn’t go late at night,” said Banmen. “If the ridership is good we will be looking to expand it further to evenings, weekends and midday service.”

The new transit line from the Lake’s is the first transit expansion in Lake Country since Sept. of 2012 when the frequency of the number 23 bus, from Winfield to UBCO, was increased. The number 23 bus is the main bus line in Lake Country, while Oyama is served by the number 90 bus which travels from Vernon to UBCO.

Okanagan Centre currently doesn’t have bus service while the development of the Lake’s subdivision and increased population forced the necessity of the transit expansion.

“The population base and some of the density up at the Lake’s is conducive to transit,” said Banmen.

“(B.C. Transit) is looking for transit friendly development that has density and the capacity in the roads to handle transit.”

With the transit line set to open after the labour day weekend, B.C. Transit and the District of Lake Country will continue to work on the schedule, the final locations and installation of the bus stops. The actual bus is on order and will be on its way soon from the manufacturer.

The cost to the district this year will come in at $35,000 to pay for the partial year with the $100,000 yearly price tag beginning next year. Bussing is a shared cost between the district and B.C. Transit with Lake Country’s portion coming in at $530,000 each year for all of its transit.

Banmen says as the population continues to increase, there could be more expansion plans in the future.

“I think what we would like to do over time is improve frequencies, extend the service on the new line through the day and improve the frequencies on the number 23 route,” he said. “As different areas of the community grow, we’d be looking to institute some more, like we did in the Lake’s.”