Transit expands service in Nanaimo region

NANAIMO – Changes for the Departure Bay ferry terminal bus line are on the horizon.

Transit changes for the Departure Bay ferry terminal bus line is on the horizon, as part of approval of new transit hours for Regional District of Nanaimo Transit.

Amongst enhancements, the portion of the ferry service to Country Club Centre will be cancelled, while direct service from the transit exchange at Prideaux Street to Departure Bay will be offered from noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday to Monday – the days with the heaviest load.

Daniel Pearce, acting regional district transportation general manager, said the ferry route was implemented in 2013 and changes were expected. It was determined a lot of the ridership wasn’t going to the mall.

“So ideally, we would have service 12, 14 hours a day, seven days a week, waiting with all the ferries, but what we ultimately figured out, with the resources that we had, it would be the best just to operate from the ferry terminal to the downtown and operate on the days of the week the ferry is actually the busiest,” said Pearce.

Another change will see a new frequent transit line, 40 Express, added to connect riders from Woodgrove, Nanaimo North Town and Country Club centres, Vancouver Island University and downtown.

The transit expansion was given the green light Tuesday night as part of this year’s regional district budget, with 2,000 annual hours being implemented in 2015 and 3,000 in 2016.

According to the regional district, the financial impact for Nanaimo will be about $269,000, with about $92,000 coming from B.C. Transit and the remainder coming through property taxes and the anticipated additional fares in 2015.

Pearce said a fare review conducted in 2013 and a fare hike is currently not planned for 2015-16.

“I think in general, as transit expands, it’s a good thing for the regional district as a whole,” said Pearce. “Our ridership’s been increasing. It’s given people more different options for travel choices and increasing the livability of our community, so it’s a very positive thing.”

The changes will take effect in September and related information will be made available prior to the summer, Pearce said.

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