Lake Valley Transit was the private company that provided service in Kelowna before the UTA/ Municipal Partnership established Kelowna Transit in 1977. This picture shows one of their buses operating southbound on Ellis at the CNR Railway crossing.
July 1977, Orchard Park Shopping Centre - The transit centre was a marvel of simplicity, built on two rows of angle parking.
Ian Graham and Mike Bergman were two of the original transit planners in the mid-1970’s with BC’s Bureau of Transit Services. They were the transit pioneers who set up the 11 transit systems in BC outside of Vancouver and Victoria – including Kelowna – that formed the original scope of the ‘Small Community Systems’ program of the Urban Transit Authority.
Stan Morgan, GM for Kelowna Regional Transit (1977-2000) & Cliff Kraft, Finance Director & Local Government Liaison (1977-1990)
This photo, taken June 1978, shows the main downtown transfer point at Bernard Avenue and Ellis Street.
Bus #715, shown on the timetable cover, was built by General Motors in 1957 for service in Victoria, and ended up in Kelowna to help start the municipal service in 1977. The picture shows the bus at the main downtown transfer point, Bernard and Ellis Street. The timetable is from May 1979, but the service then was virtually identical to the original municipal system opened in May 1977, with the exception of Routes 103 Glenmore Valley and Route 109 Black Mountain which had just been added.View Photos
Alderman Fred Macklin, City of Kelowna, Vice Chairman of Urban Transit Authority Board (1979, 1980. Chair 1981, 1982)
HandyDART service is formally implemented into Kelowna Regional Transit. Prior to this time, the Kelowna Handi-Bus Society operated handyDART, and did so until the Society dissolved.View Photos
Transit service is extended to West Kelowna and officially becomes regional, using a single bus on a big two-hour round trip loop.
Don Boyd, transit planner worked in transit from 1976 to 2005.
Urban Transit Authority changed their name to BC Transit in 1984
This photo was taken at Orchard Park Mall on Saturday, July 4, 1987. Pictured are transit planners Don Boyd (on left) and Stan Morgan (on right).
James Stuart, Kelowna Mayor & member of BC Transit Board (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991)
Steve New started with Kelowna Regional Transit in 1987 as a Division Manager for Municipal Systems Program. He dedicated 23 years to the BC Transit team, working in collaboration with local government elected officials, staff and operating companies to meet the local transit needs. By his final year with BC Transit, 2010, he was the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in Victoria. Steve was responsible to lead BC Transit's partnership program of funding, professional services and capital assets with local governments and private transit operating companies of what is called regional transit systems.
In November 1992 service to Lake Country started with one bus. November also marked the beginning of service to Peachland starting with one bus.
January 1993 service to OK College started with two buses. Also in January 1993 is the expansion of service into Glenmore Valley with two buses.
Ron Westlake, Kelowna Engineering Manager, Transportation Division Manager & Local Government Liaison (1994-2016)
In 1996 main service routes increased from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. This doubled the fleet overnight from eight buses in service to 16.
Commuter service to West Kelowna improved from 60 to 30 minutes with four more buses driving the routes. December 1997 saw major improvements to early morning and evening service on all routes in Kelowna.View Photos
New Queensway Downtown Exchange openedView Photos
Bike racks are installed on all conventional buses
Walter Gray, Kelowna Mayor and member of BC Transit Board (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005), Mike Docherty, GM for Kelowna Regional Transit (2000-2010) & Jerry Dombowsky, Regional TDM and Programs Manager (2001-present). and Anita Wasiuta, Communications and Marketing
A new bus garage is built in Kelowna.View Photos
2002 the double-decker buses are introduced.
In 2003, all Kelowna Transit buses are outfitted with accessibility features (all busses to have either low floors, or kneeling capabilities to allow those with accessibility needs greater flexibility).
The Smart Transit Plan set out to identify a transit-supportive approach to smart growth land use development; prepare a transit priority strategy, integrating intelligent transportation systems technologies; and present a strategy towards developing higher order transit, such as bus rapid transit.
The findings and recommendations outlined in the Central Okanagan Smart Transit Plan were a product of a comprehensive stakeholder consultation program, a large number of surveys, travel forecasting, long-term transit visioning and a practical and pragmatic implementation program.View Photos
In response to driver and passenger feedback from a Service Review earlier in the year resulted in the development of the Passenger Code of Conduct. This outlines expectations to ensure that taking transit is a safe and respectful experience for everyone. For more information, visit: https://bctransit.com/*/careers/code-of-conduct
Public feedback from an earlier Service Review resulted in new service to Black Mountain, Crawford Estates and Southwest Mission. Funded completely by the City of Kelowna, the new service expansion was the largest change in the Kelowna Regional Transit System at that time. Trip schedules of the routes were designed to coordinate with school and commuter times, and to connect to the popular UBC Okanagan Express trips. Most of the new service operated using community-style buses.View Photos
The Province of BC Launched the Provincial Transit Plan in 2008 with the goal of doubling ridership and reducing greenhouse gases. The plan identified nine new RapidBus lines in high growth urban centres, such as Kelowna.
The Kelowna RapidBus project is designed to improve travel time, reliability, passenger comfort and convenience. It features fast, direct service and modern, attractive amenities.
In September 2007, a Universal Bus Pass (U-Pass) was implemented at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus (UBCO) based on approval through a student referendum. It continues to be approved in the 2011 & 2015 student referendums. The transit U-Pass is included in student fees for all students, allowing for a greatly discounted rate which makes student transportation affordable and meets with City and regional sustainability objectives.View Photos
Kelowna Regional Transit annual ridership statistics increased 18.1% in 2007, second only to Charlottetown, PEI (25.5%), based on national ridership statistics announced by the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA). "We're seeing more and more commuters choosing transit," says Ron Westlake, Transportation Manager and Chair of the British Columbia regional committee of CUTA. "This trend supports our goal to continue transit expansion and introduce RapidBus in the fall of 2009."
On Tuesday, August 5, Kelowna Regional Transit introduced handyDART service for the District of Lake Country. Registered handyDART passengers living in Lake Country can look forward to door-to-door service with the ability to transfer to conventional service for longer trips. For more information about handyDART service, click here.View Photos
In September, 2008, investment in the Kelowna Regional Transit service increased by seven per cent, after several years of static growth. The expansion coincided with the recent initiation of the student U-Pass at UBCO, and the unveiling of the Provincial Transit Strategy, aiming to double transit ridership by 2020. The service expansion included extended night service on major routes with last trips leaving Queensway Transit Exchange after midnight, Monday through Saturday; more Sunday and holiday service; expanded weekday and Saturday commuter service in Lake Country; increased Sunday and evening service; and, further service improvements to commuter destinations like Sexmith Road, Kelowna Fightcraft, and Kelowna General Hospital, as well as an additional express trip to the Westside.View Photos
Phase 1 of the RapidBus project includes constructing an additional westbound lane to create three continuous lanes of travel; urbanizing the corridor with landscaped boulevard, sidewalk, curb and gutter and enclosed storm sewer system; relocating the centre median streets light to be the outside of the roadway; and incorporating six new bus pullouts along the length. It also includes bus service every 15 minutes during peak periods travelling 15 kilometers in high occupancy vehicle lanes along Highway 97 between downtown and UBCO. Buses get equipped with technology that extends green lights at intersections allowing the bus priority movement with minimal stops. Finally, seven new transit stops are built as a part of Phase 1 of RapidBus.View Photos
This important infrastructure development allows for better flow of commuters and access to bus stops on either side of Highway 97. Residents can walk or bike over the bridge, which is situated in front of the popular Parkinson Recreation Centre.
On September 1, 2010 the Provincial and Federal Governments announced funding for Phase 2 and 3 of the RapidBus project. Phase 2 and 3 of the project expands upon the foundation that was established in Phase 1, and includes new stations and exchanges within the City of West Kelowna and the City of Kelowna, Transit Signal Priority and passenger information display systems at stations.View Photos
In August 2011, Kelowna City Council endorsed the Transit Future Plan for the Central Okanagan Region, and thus the expansion of the public transit service over the next 25 years. The proposed Plan identifies services and infrastructure that would be required to build a strong, effective, efficient and innovative transit system that addresses major emerging issues such as climate change, population growth, increasing traffic congestion and an aging population.View Photos
A new transit exchange at the Mission Recreation Centre is completed in 2012, thus offering residents and visitors easy access directly to the major recreation facility.View Photos
This project represented the first phase RapidBus, which included investing in new roadway and pedestrian infrastructure in Uptown Rutland and restructuring transit service to create an attractive, transit-oriented urban centre. The City’s plans to make infrastructure investments in the Rutland Urban Centre were the result of many years of planning and consultation with business and community stakeholders. Investments in new pedestrian, transit and road infrastructure continue to improve access to local businesses by all transportation modes while creating a strong pedestrian and transit orientation within the inner core Uptown Rutland.View Photos
The Westside RapidBus infrastructure improvements included:
Okanagan College was identified as a strategic transit hub for enhancements in the Central Okanagan Transit Future Plan.
The Okanagan College transit exchange, which included a new transit pullout and stops, pedestrian crossings, pedestrian / cycle connectivity and linkages, transit signal priority and intelligent transportation systems and related infrastructure, was completed in 2014.View Photos
Construction started on Queensway transit exchange in May 2014, after the completion of Bernard Avenue, with reconfiguration of the lanes and parking between Pandosy and Water Streets and a roundabout at the intersection of Queensway Avenue and Water Street.
Queensway transit exchange improvements were completed in July 2014 with two new RapidBus stops in front of Kelowna City Hall coming into service in time for the launch Phase 3 of BC Transit’s RapidBus in September 2014.View Photos
The Pandosy Village transit exchange was completed, as part of the RapidBus Phase 2 & 3View Photos