COVID-19 has brought about changes in how Kelowna transit buses are allowed to operate. (File photo)

Central Okanagan transit rider passed over by her bus

Kelowna senior says COVID-inspired passenger limits can be frustrating

Maureen Stewart is being restricted access to Kelowna’s transit service because of COVID-19 passenger load restrictions.

Three times Stewart has watched her bus pass by her Springfield-Gordon bus stop, leaving her stranded to reach previously set up appointments.

As a senior in her 80s living in the Capri area of the city, Stewart relies on transit for her primary transportation.

“It’s kind of frustrating to go out and meet a bus at a certain pickup time and watch it go by without stopping. I can’t afford to do it three or four times a week…I can call a taxi if I need to be somewhere at a certain time, but a lot of seniors don’t have that opportunity,” Stewart said.

READ MORE: Delays in COVID testing for Central Okanagan students persist

She cited specifically the #8 route between Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan, which can be filled with students at the prime morning and afternoon rush periods.

She asks: “I wonder if any thought has been given to dedicating special buses for students? That would allow regularly scheduled service to be available or the remainder of the traveling public.

“With the onset of winter, it will be frustrating to be left at a stop (especially the ones with no shelter), and having to think of other ways to get where you want to go.”

Stewart adds Kelowna transit is “for the most part a great service,” and the bus drivers she raises this issue with are sympathetic.

Mike Kittmer, the transit service coordinator for the City of Kelowna, is also understanding of transit riders such as Stewart being stranded at a bus stop.

Kittmer said the situation is part of the fallout from COVID travel restrictions limiting only 30 people on the bus.

He said the Kelowna transit service, operated in partnership between the city and BC Transit, is looking to minimize what Stewart has experienced.

“Our schedule is set up in the spring and again in the fall, but this year we’ll be reviewing the schedule in January because of the disruption caused by COVID and how we can address them,” Kittmer said.

He said transit has instituted a pass-up service, where an extra bus is used on a given route to help meet the ridership demand.

“Our transit operators tend to use those resources for morning and afternoon peak periods, and we don’t need it as much in mid-afternoons. That has worked out well for us,” he said.

Kittmer said transit logues where peak ridership issues arise on a daily basis. “We certainly track that so we know exactly where it is occurring,” he said.

Another scheduling issue addressed was school buses only picking up high school students at KSS and Mount Boucherie secondary schools at the lunch hour due to COVID-influenced curriculum class scheduling.

Buses were added for routes to high schools not getting mid-afternoon bus service, and there has been a positive response from students accessing that service.

Kittmer said generally, ridership has increased in recent weeks as adults and students start to see some consistency in their personal transportation needs.

“The Central Okanagan has actually performed quite well (compared to) others around the country during this COVID period but I think that is also reflected by the fact COVID has not been as significant here as in other regions.”

Despite that, safety measures were put in place for drivers and the period of offering free ridership meant a loss of operating revenue which contributes to the total cost of transit.

READ MORE: Anti-mask protesters cause disturbance on ferry at Horseshoe Bay

READ MORE: Parent group plans school walkout over B.C.’s handling of COVID-19 in classrooms

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

@newspaperphil
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

A brown bear and two cubs were spotted near Killiney Beach May 10. (Michael Dick photo)
Warm spring brings bears out earlier in Okanagan

Residents urged to keep their garbage secure until the morning of pickup

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read