BC Transit is planning several route expansions in Penticton in 2022. (Black Press file photo)

BC Transit is planning several route expansions in Penticton in 2022. (Black Press file photo)

Transit use down in Penticton, multiple route expansions planned for post-pandemic

The number of riders is just over half the peak of January 2020

The number of people using public transit in Penticton has nearly cut in half since the pandemic began.

In an update on the South Okanagan Transit Plan to Penticton’s council on May 18, the report showed that March 2021 had 24,711 riders on Penticton’s public transit system, compared to the peak of 47,012 in January 2020 and the low 10,340 in April 2020.

Use of the handyDART program also recovered, from 148 riders in April 2020 to 507 in March 2021.

Tentatively scheduled for Penticton in 2022 to 2024 include expansions of custom transit, which is programs like handyDART, increasing the frequency of Route 5, expanding service to upper Wiltse and Sendero Canyon.

The updated transit plan will be going towards a public consultation period, which will include new opportunities to gather feedback through online workshops and interactive mapping.

BC Transit will also be looking at straightening out routes, improving access to the college and relocating some routes to simplifing development.

In the entire South Okanagan Similkameen Transit System, planned expansions for January 2022 include expanding Route 30 Penticton – Summerland, Route 70 Kelowna – Penticton and a new service to West Bench.

The previous transit plan saw multiple projects introduced and completed, including local transit to Okanagan Falls, Route 5 to Penticton Sunday service, commuter service between Penticton and Kelowna and Monday service on route 40 Osoyoos/Penticton.

Other planned features that will be rolled out include electronic fare collection, which will help introduce a more contactless way of paying and allow BC Transit to have more data for planning.

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