A new transit exchange is projected to begin construction on the UBCO campus this upcoming May. The transit exchange, among other campus improvements which are outlined in the updated “Campus Plan,” were approved by UBC’s Board of Governors in September of 2015. The new route will run down Alumni Avenue and along a new transit way around the perimeter of the E parking lot. It will host four bus layover areas and nine new bus bays, six of which will be constructed on Alumni Avenue.
The UBCO campus currently receives an average of twenty-two buses an hour, and with the current set-up, it would be difficult to accommodate any additional buses along Alumni Avenue, where the current bus shelters are currently located. With the growing population on campus, there is a growing demand for more public transportation. A transit study in 2013 concluded that 22% of all trips to campus were on public transit, compared to 27% in 2015 (which equates to approximately 8,400 trips a day). Although the new transit exchange could see as many as 38 buses per hour, in contrast to the 22 that are currently arriving on campus, the new layout will not only reduce congestion by allowing the increased public transit to move along the perimeter of E lot and back down University Way, but it will also improve pedestrian safety by decreasing the public transit traffic along Alumni Avenue near the cross-walks.
Another addition to the transit exchange is the introduction of pre-designated stops for buses. Each bus will have a pre-designated area so students will no longer have to fish for their bus, but rather, they can wait at the assigned areas.
There will be new bus shelters built on Alumni Avenue and along the perimeter of E Lot where the new bus stops will be placed. The existing bus shelters will be converted into additional bike storage on campus. However, with the new transit way that will run around the perimeter of E Lot, there will be a loss of approximately 40 parking spaces. Bud Mortenson, director of UBC Okanagan University Relations, says it will only be a “temporary loss, because [the parking spaces] will be replaced on campus over the next couple of years as the west campus access is developed as a result of John Hindle drive being completed.”
Although there is no set date for the completion of the new and improved transit exchange, Mortensen said “[it is intended] to be substantially complete before classes return in September, and every effort will be made to minimize disruption for transit riders and pedestrians throughout construction.” Mortenson also stated that, “planners have expressed high confidence that this is going to be a significant improvement in both the safety of pedestrians that are crossing Alumni Avenue and will also be an improvement for an expanding bus service over time.”