Nanaimo councillor seeks transit system budget increase

A Nanaimo city councillor is pushing for expanded transit service within the City of Nanaimo.

Coun. George Anderson, also a Regional District of Nanaimo director and city transportation advisory committee chairman, will approach the regional district board at tonight’s (Feb. 11) committee of the whole meeting, seeking to increase the city’s 2014 tax requisition by $175,000 for the expansion as well as a report from staff outlining options.

Anderson told the News Bulletin that he is essentially looking to add an additional 5,000 transit hours within the city. In his capacity with the transportation committee, he heard from residents about the need for increased bus service.

“I spoke to a woman just a couple of months ago about how she has to spend roughly $40 to get home on a Sunday because transit doesn’t accommodate her type of schedule because it only goes till about 7 p.m.,” Anderson said.

“Students at [Vancouver Island University] get left behind because buses are over capacity and there’s just an overall want in our community to see more buses on the road so that people can use alternative modes of transportation.”

Decreasing reliance on single-occupancy vehicles is a part of the city transportation master plan, he added.

If the tax requisition increase is approved, the cost would be shared between the regional district and B.C. Transit, according to Anderson.

“When I think of $175,000, it’s not even close to one per cent in taxes and the benefits that we’re getting in our community in regards to getting more people off the road and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, actually on an economic basis as well, we’re saving the taxpayers money by having less wear on the roads,” said Anderson.

With less wear, the roads would last longer and investing in transit would be a “win for the community,” he said.

Daniel Pearce, regional district transit operations manager, said there is definitely a demand for transit expansion in Nanaimo and it is something highlighted in a soon-to-be-released regional district transit future plan.

“If it goes forward, that will be great news, if it doesn’t we’ll still continue to work with the resources we have to provide the best possible transit service,” Pearce said.

If the motion is adopted tonight, it will be brought to the Feb. 25 regular board meeting for consideration.

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