Increased bus service to and from Vancouver Island University is coming in January after Regional District of Nanaimo directors voted to reallocate transit hours originally dedicated for Lantzville.
The RDN board approved a 5,900-hour conventional transit expansion set for January 2020 at its regular meeting Tuesday night. The Route 11 Lantzville bus line was slated to see 110 additional hours as part of that, but Mark Swain, Lantzville director and mayor, proposed an amendment to exclude the hours as money could be better spent elsewhere in his municipality.
As part of the expansion, Route 11 was slated to continue on Southwind Drive to the Westwind and Northwind drives area, but Swain said the cost, quoted in a staff report at about $10,500, would come at significant expense to his community, a small municipality with a limited budget.
“This actually represents about 16 per cent of our current requisition for this service that we subscribe to through the RDN,” said Swain. “In Lantzville … our concern is increasing the frequency of our busing into Lantzville, not necessarily increasing the actual route itself.”
Swain also said water is a priority in Lantzville and money could be better put to use in regards to that.
The Route 40 VIU Express last saw service improvements with a 5,000-hour expansion in June 2018. However, Daniel Pearce, RDN director of transportation and emergency services, told the News Bulletin the run was still seeing “overload,” and the 110 hours will be beneficial.
“We would be using the hours predominantly in the September starting up of the system to see when those buses are potentially full,” said Pearce. “We do know that we do experience a changing in volumes, especially in the first two to three weeks of the school year and based on the current schedules, we do know that there can be capacity issues at the key times in the morning.
“Having overload hours means we can actually dispatch extra buses to help alleviate that pressure at certain times and not include them in the regular schedule, but really just have that bus go out one or two times during that week where it’s most needed.”
Busing for the Cassidy-Nanaimo Airport area and Cedar-VIU route will also be implemented come January 2020 as part of the expansion.
The board also approved South Nanaimo Local Area Transit Plan adoption, annual conventional and custom transit operating agreements with funding partner B.C. Transit and a three-year service expansion at the meeting.