Direct transit service between Duncan and Ladysmith will commence this fall.
That’s the main change contained in a redesign of the Cowichan Valley’s bus service, presented to Ladysmith Council Monday, July 18.
The new Ladysmith-Duncan route, which will come into effect Oct. 3, will provide three round trips Monday to Friday between the two communities, as well as two round-trips on Saturdays.
Other changes to routes and schedules that will come into effect Oct. 3, based on a recent survey of 500 riders as well as an analysis of ridership, were outlined for council by BC Transit Senior Planner Shilpa Paniker.
• combination of Routes 31 (Colonia) and 32 (Forrest Field);
• discontinuation of Route 33 (Waterfront);
• combination of Routes 34 (Westdowne) and 35 (Chemainus), ‘using Highway 1 and River Road.’
• discontinuation of Sunday service.
Paniker included existing monthly Monday to Friday ridership figures in her report. The most heavily used run presently is Route 35 Ladysmith-Chemainus, which offers four trips daily and is used by 410 riders.
The Westdowne Route, offering six trips daily, serves 290 passengers; Colonia, offering eight trips, serves 266 passengers.
Routes with the lowest ridership were Forrest Field, with six trips daily, serving 113 riders; and Waterfront, with three trips daily, serving 36 riders.
In their survey BC Transit found that 76 per cent of respondents were in favour of a direct Ladysmith-Duncan route. Most supported midday trips (between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.), but 40 per cent favored commuter times as well.
Eighty per cent of respondents said they were either in favour of or would not be impacted by combining Routes 31 and 32, which the report said will serve ‘most of the existing service area with one route’; and will have riders in residential areas within 400 metres walking distance of the new route.
Responding to questions about the possibility of direct service between Ladysmith and the Vancouver Island University campus in Nanaimo, Mayor Aaron Stone said discussions have been initiated, but that a ‘willing partner’ is needed for that to happen.
Because Nanaimo falls outside the CVRD transit region, Ladysmith has limited influence, but Stone said he’s confident demand for the VIU service will make it a priority in the coming years within the Regional District of Nanaimo.