Busing to Duke Point ferry terminal is on the radar of the Regional District of Nanaimo in its transit plan for Nanaimo’s south end.
The RDN transit select committee will discuss the South Nanaimo Local Area Transit Plan at its Thursday, July 11 meeting. Plan initiation began in fall of 2017, with public feedback coming via consultation sessions. The draft plan lists transit infrastructure improvements and service priorities and according to Tyler Brown, RDN director and committee chairman, will guide the regional district in future transit planning.
According to the draft plan, Duke Point ferry terminal is amongst the few in B.C. not serviced by transit and introduction of a route is listed third on a list of implementation priorities. The proposed route would service the terminal as well as industrial zones in Cedar and run from downtown Nanaimo, along the Trans Canada Highway, past South Parkway Plaza, Harmac Road and onto Duke Point Highway to the terminal.
Provision of service to customers for peak morning, midday and peak evening ferry trips, seven days a week, is estimated to require 5,000 service hours and two buses. A schedule would be drawn up based on the ferry schedule.
Brown said he thinks the RDN has other minor transit expansions planned before a Duke Point run and it would be the board directors’ prerogative if they want to bump it up. Whether Duke Point busing or any of the plan’s priorities become reality is based on whether the RDN chooses to provide funding, he said.
“There’s another report on the [transit select committee agenda] where we’ll be considering endorsing transit hour requests. We pay for just over 50 per cent and B.C. Transit pays for the other share,” said Brown. “On that is a 20,000-hour request that came from City of Nanaimo. If that does go ahead, that would be 2023, but that would give us the ability to see routes to the ferry, see routes to the airport and bus rapid transit on our more [popular] routes, like Bowen Road.
“So the transit future plan sets out a goal and if we want to meet those goals, and if we want to provide better city service, and also those inter-regional connections, we need to put our money where our mouth is and fund those expansions.”
Restructuring routes that service Cinnabar, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and introducing busing to Cedar and Cassidy were listed as the top priorities and restructuring the Fairview, Harewood and VIU Express routes was listed at No. 2.
If the committee gives approval, the plan will be forwarded to the RDN regular board meeting on July 23.
A proposal for Duke Point transit was voted down in March 2018 by the committee of the day, with staff instead directed to compile a study that examined increasing frequency for an express route to Vancouver Island University.