The wheels on the bus aren’t going ’round and ’round fast enough to satisfy Nanaimo residents.
A recent Regional District of Nanaimo survey found that public transit is an area that needs improvement. Thirty-six per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with transit and 59 per cent want to see it expanded. What’s more, those polled were randomly selected citizens, including, presumably, those who never ride the bus. If riders were surveyed at the Prideaux Street exchange, for example, those percentages would be even higher.
If we had been surveyed, we would have echoed the views of many others. We’re dissatisfied with transit and would like to see it expanded. We want shorter waits at the bus stops and rapid travel between downtown and Woodgrove.
We know Nanaimo should be doing better. Visitors come here from modern cities in Canada and around the world and have certain expectations about public transit, and we don’t meet those expectations.
It’s not just a matter of appearances or modernity. Public transit is consistent with our environmental values and we know we need to get out of our cars and SUVs, if not completely, then occasionally, if not now, then soon.
For now, the regional district will shelve the survey results and refer to them again at budget time. We don’t think homeowners should be hit with property-tax increases for transit. We would prefer to let commuters decide for themselves through a polluter-pays model – higher gas taxes and a greater percentage of those gas taxes devoted to transit operations and capital projects. Better yet, we’d like to see leadership on the issue – and funding – become priorities for higher levels of government.
Because it’s not just Nanaimo that’s waiting for the bus. Other Canadian cities have their own public transit issues to sort out, too. We could all use some more change for the bus, and some more buses, for change.