The Regional District of Nanaimo could be asking the public to help determine how a transit route between Nanaimo and Duncan might look.
At the RDN transit select committee meeting Thursday, directors approved a recommendation that could see public consultation begin March 30. Engagement would include in-person open houses, online surveys and online information, according to Aaron Thompson, B.C. Transit transit planner.
“The purpose is two-fold,” said Thompson. “One is, of course, just to inform the public of the proposal and to further consult on key information related to the service span, key travel times, the main destinations and also getting feedback on what is an appropriate fare for this service.”
A 2015 market research report identified the demand for busing between Cowichan Valley Regional District and RDN areas and subsequently, it was learned there were also demands for busing from Nanaimo to the CVRD with connections to Victoria, as well as transit from northern CVRD areas to ferry terminals in Nanaimo, noted an RDN staff report.
Start and end points for Nanaimo could be Vancouver Island University or the bus loop in downtown Nanaimo, according to information from B.C. Transit. A route with limited stops is envisioned to improve travel time and to appeal as an alternative to driving.
At the meeting, Jim Turley, RDN Nanaimo director, wondered whether Nanaimo Airport would be part of a transit exchange. Thompson said the airport has been discussed as one of the stops along the route, and Daniel Pearce, RDN general manager of transportation and emergency services, said timing could be an issue.
“The CVRD’s transit service doesn’t actually start early enough. Our system starts earlier than their system,” said Pearce. “They don’t operate all their service outside of Duncan in the region prior to 8 a.m., so the commuter market and travellers wanting to get to and from the airport, for example, would have difficulty, so that’s one thing we’d be examining, going forward through the public consultation and after that, looking at which system operates the service and how and when that time of that service starts.”
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Thompson said the inter-regional transit would adhere to the conventional cost-sharing model.
“The greatest variable in this service is likely to be the number of trips per day and the service from the city,” said Thompson.
The recommendation still needs board approval, with the next RDN board meeting taking place March 24. A report on consultation would go before the board in May. Possible implementation could take place in September 2021 or 2022.