The Regional District of Nanaimo is gearing up to hear what the public would like to see for transit in the coming years.
RDN’s transit redevelopment strategy engagement plan has been initiated as part of a regional plan “outlining necessary steps for transit system redevelopment” in the next five years, said a staff report. It is hoped the strategy will be in line with member governments’ transportation plans and serve as a blueprint to “further develop” various transit network corridors, with access for active transportation routes at major areas.
Public consultation will begin in the coming weeks and Tyler Brown, City of Nanaimo director and RDN board chairperson, said the city needs expanded service as it has been “chronically underfunded for quite some time.”
“We’ll be doing a network and route design to optimize current routing and also look to the future as more hours come on … How do we best implement that on a five-year period? What does that mean for service frequency? What are the hours of operation?” asked Brown. “We need to be looking at our bus stops, they’re definitely in need of a refresh and a re-imagine, and the associated transit infrastructure, such as exchanges and things like that.”
Brown said the RDN will take a comprehensive five-year view and see how transit is fundamentally improved.
“That’s going to include things like bus rapid transit and all the things that citizens should expect from a modern transit system in a city of 100,000,” said Brown.
The RDN’s intentions to provide an inter-regional transit connection with the Cowichan Valley Regional District is also aligned with the strategy, according to Brown.
Stuart McLean, RDN transit select committee chairperson and Bowser area director, said as a local representative, he would like to see a plan to expand transit in his area and connect with the Comox Valley Regional District. He estimated about eight kilometres separating the CVRD’s most southern route and RDN Transit’s most northern route and a lot of people north of Qualicum travel to Courtenay to shop and for appointments.
“It would be a real boon,” said McLean. “As it is, we have a very limited service … but just seeing what’s happened in the south end with the [inter-regional route] moving forward there, it’s pretty exciting because it shows that it can happen when we work together and people want it. Hopefully I will see that included in the strategy.”
The first phase of public engagement, which will focus on understanding key issues and priorities, is scheduled to begin in the middle of June, said the RDN, with the second phase set for mid-September.
The RDN will provide information about how the public can get involved through social media.
Watt Consulting Group has been hired to work with the RDN on the strategy.