Nanaimo commuters get more transit choices

Transit commuters will have more choices and more efficient service next year.

Transit commuters will have more choices and more efficient service next year as the Regional District of Nanaimo rolls out an additional 5,000 service hours in March.

The expansion includes more frequent trips to commercial areas and major hubs, including routes No. 44 and 15 which operate in the Vancouver Island University area and routes No. 8 and 9 in the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital are, and connecting as many routes as possible to the Departure Bay ferry terminal.

Daniel Pearce, RDN transit and planning manager, said increasing service and creating more convenience and efficiency to get people to their destination is a step to attract people to the transit system for their day-to-day commuting.

He said it has to be attractive to people to use it.

“It’s hard to encourage people to take transit if the frequency and convenience isn’t there,” said Pearce.

Joanna Linsangan, B.C. Transit spokeswoman, said the expanded service will benefit all customers by giving more direct service to a number of locations including the university, Woodgrove Centre and adding weekend service to the VIU connector. She said B.C. transit is committed to getting more people out of their cars on onto transit.

The service expansion funding will be split between the B.C. Transit, contributing 46.69 per cent, and the RDN, contributing 53.31 per cent.

The RDN’s portion of the expansion is $300,000. The majority of the money will be paid for through local property taxes but fares will also increase by about 11 per cent. An adult day pass will increase from $5.75 to $6.25 and an adult monthly pass will increase from $60.75 to $67.50.

The RDN also hopes to gain revenue by increased ridership and attracting new riders to the routes because of more convenient and efficient service.

The expansion is part of the RDN’s commitment to double ridership by 2020 and is based on the 2008 RDN Transit Business Plan. In 2009 service expanded 850 hours and in 2010 another 4,200 hours were added. There was no expansion in 2011.

The RDN and B.C. Transit are hosting an open house Tuesday (Dec. 6) from noon to 8 p.m. at Beban Park for people to learn about the expansion and provide feedback.

During the open house people can also suggest other areas they would like to see transit expanded in. Pearce said if routes aren’t expanded this round, the comments are essential to identify areas of future expansion.

People can also view the 2012 service expansion outline at www.rdn.bc.ca, starting Monday (Dec. 5) and can comment until Dec. 19.

reporter3@nanaimobulletin.com