Free fares mark the arrival of BC Transit’s long-anticipated bus service for Ladysmith and surrounding area Sept. 3.
To help launch BC Transit’s four new local routes and its Chemainus connector — and to commemorate 20 years’ worth of transit service in the Cowichan Valley — transit commuters ride for free Tuesday, Sept. 3, on routes throughout the Cowichan Valley Regional Transit System (CVRTS), save for the “Cowichan Commuter.”
From Sept. 3 on, Ladysmith residents can expect transit service — provided by short-bodied “Arboc” buses — on four local routes with additional service to Chemainus four times each weekday and twice per day on weekends.
Routes provide service from a transit hub at First Avenue and Symonds Street to Malone Road and Colonia Drive (Route 31), to Forrest Field (Route 32), to Transfer Beach and Oyster Bay Drive (Route 33) and to Coronation Mall (Routes 34A and 34B) and Davis Road (Route 34B). Route 35, meanwhile, provides service from Ladysmith to Chemainus, where commuters can transfer to Route 6 for service to Duncan and Mill Bay.
Schedules vary from route to route and can be found in the CVRTS Rider’s Guide.
Regular cash fares of $2 for adults and $1.75 for students and seniors take effect Sept. 4, while children aged four or younger ride free, according to the CVRTS Rider’s Guide.
Tickets, sold in packs of 10, cost $16 for adults and $13.50 for students and seniors.
Day passes cost $4 for adults and $3.25 for students, while monthly passes cost $48 for adults and $36 for seniors, students and post-secondary students.
Bus tickets and passes will be sold at Ladysmith City Hall, at the Frank Jameson Community Centre and at 49th Parallel Grocery in Ladysmith prior to September 3, BC Transit corporate spokesperson Meribeth Burton said, and beginning Sept. 6, BC Transit will make tickets available for purchase online.
“Cowichan will be one of the first ever BC Transit systems to do e-commerce, which will be super exciting,” Burton said. “So people can purchase their products online and have them mailed to them.”
For now, only day passes and monthly passes will be available for sale online, Burton added, and these will be shipped to customers by Canada Post.
BC Transit is in the process of assessing a variety of 21st-century payment technologies — including swipe cards and smartphone credit systems — that riders would be able to recharge online, but adopting these technologies is a ways off.
“We’re looking at [systems] in Sweden and in Texas to see what’s effective, but when you make a big technological leap like that, there’s a lot of things that need to be in play before that happens,” added Burton.
A standard $2 fare provides service throughout the CVRTS, Burton said, but for riders commuting from Duncan to Victoria via Route 66, an additional $7 transfer fee will apply.
Oddly enough, when travelling in reverse, transit commuters can ride directly to Ladysmith from Victoria for $7, provided they use their transfer within 90 minutes following their arrival in Duncan, Burton said.
View the new CVRTS Rider’s Guide online at transitbc.com/regions/cow/.