The plan to provide transit service from downtown Nanaimo to the Duke Point Ferry has stalled with no chance of getting it restarted this year.
The Regional District of Nanaimo’s transit select committee, at its meeting on March 22, voted against the recommendation by staff, which was directed to find the best way to apply the 5,000-hour annual conventional transit expansion that the RDN board approved for implementation this year.
Staff reviewed three options, which included evaluation of two route alignments to provide transit service to Duke Point ferry terminal and nearby industrial complexes. Service improvements to the Route 40 VIU Express, which experiences passenger crowding, was also explored.
Based on review of public feedback, analysis of routing, ferry data analysis of both Duke Point and Tsawwassen B.C. Ferries terminals, and consultation with B.C. Transit, staff favoured the Prideaux Street-to-Duke Point option and recommended it to the transit committee for approval. The route would have connected downtown Nanaimo to the ferry terminal as well as the industrial areas in Duke Point.
However, the committee voted against it. Seven directors opposed the Duke Point proposal – City of Nanaimo directors Bill Bestwick and Bill McKay, Lantzville director Bob Colclough and electoral area directors Bill Veenhof, Bob Rogers, Maureen Young and Alec McPherson. The transit committee instead voted to refer the implementation of this year’s 5,000-hour annual conventional transit expansion back to staff and requested staff to come back with a detailed study to provide frequency improvements to Route 40 Vancouver Island Express.
Daniel Pearce, RDN general manager of transit services, said there was no directive from the committee to continue to look at transit to Duke Point.
“That was actually the third report that we’ve brought forward on Duke Point, so the board has voted down that motion, so they’ve made it clear,” Pearce said.
He said staff brings forward transit expansion plans semi-annually, but said Duke Point wouldn’t be revisited for 2018 or 2019 because RDN and B.C. Transit’s fiscal years don’t align.
In the meantime, the committee asked staff for more detail about improving frequency of bus service on Route 40.
“If at any time, the board decides that service to Duke Point is something that they want to see viable and make it happen, they can propose to make that happen,” Pearce said. “And if we have expansion hours alongside with B.C. Transit, then that can become a reality.”
Staff analysis of current B.C. Ferries data indicates an average of 3,500 foot passengers arrive and depart the Duke Point ferry terminal each week.
-with files from Greg Sakaki/The News Bulletin