A Regional District of Nanaimo committee has set the wheels in motion for rapid busing to and from Nanaimo’s north and south ends beginning next year.
RDN’s transit select committee, at its Jan. 27 meeting, approved recommendations for a five-year transit redevelopment strategy, including recommendations to implement the new Nanaimo rapid line. It would serve as “the new main spine for the system,” said a report by Watt Consulting Group, which assisted with the strategy, and would originate from Woodgrove Centre, moving along old Island Highway to downtown Nanaimo and then to South Parkway Plaza.
In a phased approach, service would begin 2023-24 with buses between Woodgrove and downtown, with service to the south terminus starting in 2024-25.
The rapid line would strive to have service “every 15 minutes or better” and “limited stops,” linking major locations along the highway, stated the strategy. Other notable service includes a connection (Route 77) from South Parkway Plaza to Duke Point ferry terminal every two and a half hours, seven days a week, beginning in 2024-25. Route 11 Rutherford-Hospital would offer busing between Nanaimo North Town Centre, Rosstown Road neighbourhood and the hospital district starting in 2023-24.
Don Bonner, Nanaimo director, transit committee member and a bus rider, said constituents have been telling him improvements are needed.
“I’m hearing the request for more frequency,” said Bonner. “If you miss a bus, can you get another one in 10 minutes? Things along those lines. That’s, I think, the major concern a lot of people have.”
Strategy implementation is dependent on B.C. Transit approving transit hours, something Stuart McLean, RDN transit select committee chairperson, is optimistic about.
“I feel confident that we will be able to support the RDN in this aggressive expansion,” said McLean. “I think it will be a good model for the rest of the province, if they want to expand their transit systems.”
Bonner likes the way public transit improvements are progressing.
“This is a process we started pretty well at the beginning of our tenure on city council, by putting forward a motion to encourage another 20,000 [transit hours] and now we’re getting close to 70,000,” said Bonner. “So I think it’ll make a big difference in terms of how transit runs in this city in the next five years.”
According to Watt Consulting’s report, a second round of public consultation found that 70 per cent of respondents strongly supporting the rapid line.
The recommendations will now be forwarded to the RDN board for approval.
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