Regional District of Nanaimo’s transit select committee will consider a recommendation this month to replace RDN Transit’s HandyDart bus fleet. (Black Press file)

Regional District of Nanaimo to consider HandyDart bus fleet replacement

New light-duty, gas-powered buses sought by funding partner B.C. Transit

The Regional District of Nanaimo transit select committee will consider whether to back B.C. Transit in replacing 15 HandyDart buses.

The HandyDart service, offering transit for registrants with disabilities, sees RDN Transit leasing 15 diesel-powered, light-duty Chevrolet Arboc buses from B.C. Transit, its funding partner, at a yearly rate of $18,500. Replacement takes place every five to seven years, according to an RDN staff report and B.C. Transit seeks to purchase new light-duty, gas-powered buses made by Blue Bird. The committee is expected to discuss the subject at its Jan. 21 meeting.

Current HandyDart vehicles have ramps, but the new buses will have rear side lifts, which will give riders with mobility assistance easier access. The report also states that buses will have high floors, which will give users a better ride due to “conventional suspension design” and are expected to be cheaper with lower maintenance costs.

RELATED: RDN looking to relocate, upgrade Woodgrove bus loop

Daniel Pearce, RDN transportation and emergency services general manager, said while only half of the RDN’s HandyDart fleet is due for replacement, the newer buses in the fleet will be used by B.C. Transit at other locations. The rear side lifts will also help drivers, he said.

“One thing that we heard from our riders, as well as our operators is that the buses that we’re using that are low floor, they can be a challenge for loading wheelchairs and unloading wheelchairs as well as loading ambulatory passengers…” said Pearce. “For maintenance it was creating challenges and then from an operational standpoint, loading and unloading wheelchairs and ambulatory passengers could be difficult.”

Exact pricing is not currently available, but staff said costs are estimated to be less than the $18,500 lease fee. B.C. Transit will cover about 47 per cent of the cost, while the RDN will cover about 53 per cent.

While RDN Transit has compressed natural gas buses in its fleet, that option is not available for the HandyDart buses.

If approval is given by the committee, the recommendation will be forwarded to the RDN board.

RELATED: RDN approves extra taxi subsidy to help out HandyDart riders

RELATED: Regional District of Nanaimo to apply new HandyDart registration process

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo dentists donate 4,000 masks, 25,000 gloves to health-care peers

Nanaimo District Dental Society collects items for front-line workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Electric bike worth $3,000 stolen in Nanaimo’s north end

Nanaimo RCMP looking for suspect who cut lock and rode off with e-bike Monday

Thieves taking advantage of empty streets, say Nanaimo RCMP

Police offer crime prevention reminders during COVID-19 pandemic

Nanaimo merchants struggle to find a new ‘business as usual’ during COVID-19 pandemic

Some businesses trying to make do with delivery, takeout or online sales

Nanaimo first responders salute health-care workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Emergency services workers sounded their sirens Monday night outside NRGH

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Most Read