Regional transit expansion rolls out March 2013

NANAIMO – Transit service expected to improve after regional directors approve more than 8,000 additional service hours.

Nanaimo’s regional transit service is expanding – with more service hours and a new route that will service downtown, Departure Bay ferry terminal and Country Club Centre.

At its regular board meeting Tuesday night, the Regional District of Nanaimo approved a proposed 5,000-hour conventional transit expansion, and a 3,750-hour custom transit/HandyDART expansion for 2013-14.

Combined, the custom and conventional expansions will increase operating costs by approximately $1.1 million, which will be paid for by additional fares ($129,000), B.C. Transit ($439,000), and property taxes ($542,000).

For Nanaimo city taxpayers, that will mean a 6.3-per cent increase in the Southern Community Transit tax requisition next year.

Riders can expect to see the expansion roll out in March.

“It’s really going to make it easier for the commuter market to use the transit system to get to and from work,” said Daniel Pearce, RDN’s manager of transit operations. “We’ve had a number of expansions over the years, and with each expansion you’re able to provide greater level of service, making it easy to walk, cycle and take the bus.”

The services changes are based on the 2008 Transit Business Plan and ridership feedback and include a No. 25 B.C. Ferries route, running Monday to Friday between the Prideaux transit exchange, the Country Club transit exchange and the Departure Bay ferry.

A common concern has been conflicting bus schedules when a ferry is not on time, Pearce said.

“Making it an independent route [allows] the ability to wait for the ferry if its running late and just provide more direct service to the ferry and foot passengers,” Pearce said.

The expansion also includes increased service on the No. 4 Vancouver Island University run, No. 7 Cinnabar/Cedar run, and on No. 90 Intercity Connector and No. 88 Parksville, which will provide hourly service between Nanaimo and Parksville.

Increased frequency on the No. 15 VIU connector will mean six additional weekday trips and 10 trips operating the entire length of Jingle Pot Road.

“That’s been our largest single-most item that has been requested for additional service,” Pearce said.

The 3,750-hour custom transit expansion would be used to provide one additional vehicle for Parksville and Qualicum beach three days a week, while the additional hours would eliminate the HandyDART subscription wait list in Nanaimo.

Transit ridership from April 1, 2011 to March 1, 2012 was 2,615,000 and the district anticipates an approximate five-per cent increase this year.

For more information, please visit the regional district’s website at www.rdn.bc. ca.