Transit fares to increase

Bus riders can expect to see a 25 cent increase this summer to $2.25 per local trip.

Bus riders can expect to see a 25 cent increase this summer to $2.25 per local trip.

The raise in fares is expected in July when the regional transit system comes online.

Regional District Okanagan Similkameen directors heard an update on the regional transit plan at their meeting last week.

Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit raised concerns that ridership might decline with an increase in fares, causing a decrease in revenue to support the system.

Daniel Pizarro, senior regional transit manager for BC Transit, said studies have shown ridership might slightly decrease in the beginning of a new fare structure but expected growth in ridership offsets any decrease.

The fare strategy includes a local routes fee and a regional route fare.

All local fares will be $2.25 and regional $4.

“It was very confusing to move around regionally, not just regionally locally as well, from Osoyoos to Penticton there are 10 to 12 different fares depending on how far you went,” Pizarro said.

Director Peter Waterman, mayor of Summerland, voiced concerns about changes to routes and times of buses travelling between his community and Penticton.

“I think it’s a chicken and egg thing. Without any kind of scheduling expansion you won’t see an increase of ridership,” he said.

Pizarro said he understood there was a request to add or change the time of the bus leaving Summerland for Penticton in the afternoon to try and accommodate young people’s work schedules.

He said schedules are approved by the province every year and BC Transit staff works with local government staff to make changes.

A new regional riders guide that includes schedules and information on all five systems and contact information for customers will be released later this year.

The regional transit plan will go out to boards and councils in March for input and endorsement.

Any adjustments will be made before implementation in July.