Free bus program in Parksville called a success
The success of a free shuttle bus in downtown Parksville in the summer highlights deficiencies in regular transit service, city council heard Monday night.
The Parksville Downtown Business Association (PDBA) operates a free Shoppers Shuttle in the summer.
“The purpose of the bus is to get people into the downtown Business Improvement Area to shop,” said PDBA president Michelle Jones.
Last summer, ridership increased by 600 passengers to 2,200, but the “community has become invested in the free bus,” distracting from their goal of getting tourists downtown.
“They like it, they expect it and they want it expanded,” which she said “points to gaps in local transportation services, which the PDBA is not in a position to address.”
She said the bus costs a third of the PDBA’s annual budget and accounts for “by far the most queries handled by our office in the spring and summer.” She said they are considering expanding the summer-only service a couple hours each day and/or adding Sunday service, but are not interested in becoming the city’s public transit system.
“The community clearly has considerable pent-up demand for transportation services,” she said.
Some councillors offered tips about getting resorts and business that benefit from the service to contribute, selling ad space and including a donation box, but Jones said they were not actually looking to take on more transit responsibility, they were just passing on the feedback they get.