UBC Reports | Vol. 53 | No. 8 | Aug 9, 2007
Getting Around Made Easier at UBC Okanagan
By Bud Mortenson
A reduced-cost public transit program for students, a new Bus Rapid Transit service, a new road network on campus, and a $14.5-million highway “flyover” are changing the look of transportation at UBC Okanagan this fall.
The federal government announced in July an $11-million transfer of gas tax revenue to the Regional District of Central Okanagan and Kelowna Regional Transit to establish a new Bus Rapid Transit system with buses running from downtown Kelowna to the UBC Okanagan campus in north Kelowna, with only two stops at other terminals along the way.
In November 2006, UBC Okanagan students approved a mandatory U-Pass program, similar to the UBC Vancouver student U-Pass that has been in place since 2003.
Starting in September, all part-time and full-time students will have unlimited access to BC Transit services within the Regional District of Central Okanagan. The cost of the program is $50 per term, however, the Students’ Union has negotiated a sliding scale subsidy with the University to keep U-Pass costs as low as possible. The U-Pass cost for students will be $25 in September 2007, $37.50 in January 2008, and $45 in all subsequent terms. It will be assessed as part of tuition fees at the beginning of each term.
“One of the goals of U-Pass is to provide a low-cost sustainable transportation option for UBC Okanagan students as part of a comprehensive, sustainable transportation strategy,” says Carole Jolly, Director of UBC’s TREK Program Centre, which oversees transportation management for UBC. “The U-Pass will help reduce unnecessary traffic to and from campus, while increasing access to public transportation. This will help ease traffic congestion and automobile parking demands as UBC Okanagan’s enrolment grows.”
With major construction underway on the UBC Okanagan campus, several parking lots have been downsized to make way for new buildings. One new 500-space parking lot is being added. However, Jolly says the emphasis is really on improving transportation options and encouraging as many people as possible to choose public or alternative transportation such as car pooling to and from the campus.
Safety of those arriving and leaving the campus each day -- whether by bus, in their own vehicles, or on bicycles -- has been improved with the construction of a new overpass that will carry traffic over busy Highway 97 onto the campus. Options for a new cycle path from the UBC Okanagan campus to Kelowna’s municipal road network, without routing cyclists onto Highway 97, are currently being explored by UBC Okanagan and the City of Kelowna.
More information about the UBC Okanagan U-Pass program can be found on the web at www.ubcsuo.ca.