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BC Transit approves bus link between Deep Bay and Courtenay

Expansion services for handyDART not approved at this time
Regional District of Nanaimo’s Transit routes will have additional running hours. (PQB News photo)

BC Transit will expand its services to include the introduction of a bus link connecting Deep Bay to the Comox Valley.

It’s part of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s transit redevelopment strategy and is one of its many expansion initiatives approved for implementation by BC Transit.

A report highlighting the new expansion services was presented to the RDN’s transit committee on March 28.

BC Transit has approved a total of 9,900 annual service hours for RDN’s conventional buses, with 8,900 hours to be introduced in 2025. The 500 annual service hours will be for the introduction of a service on Sunday and Monday on bus No. 99 at the Deep Bay Marina to provide connection to the Comox Valley Regional bus No. 10 (Fanny Bay/Downtown Courtenay).

“This is very exciting news as riders will now be able to travel from Campbell River all the way to Victoria, vice-versa,” said Darren Marshall.

Qualicum Beach director Teunis Westbroek asked if BC Transit will establish bus shelters to make it comfortable for people waiting for their connection.

“How is that going to work?” Westbroek asked. “Because I have seen it in our area where people stand in the side of the ditch to wait for the bus. And I think if you want to make this attractive, it has to be convenient and safe. So I think these shelters in between where the connections are should be well designed.”

Marshall informed Westbroek there are plans to upgrade the Deep Bay exchange point with a shelter.

“We’re working with MoTI infrastructure, Comox Valley Regional District and to try and expedite it,” said Marshall. “However, there are some challenges in the property layout and we just have to work through that process and we’re going to bring a report to the board for that. We’re going to apply for grant funding to help offset the cost of that infrastructure.”

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Another 500 hours will be dedicated to the additional trips on the Nanaimo-Cowichan Express in the evenings, Fridays and Saturdays. The NCX bus services was started in March 2022.

While the additional hours is good news, Marshall said the expansion for the custom handyDART service to include weekends and holidays was not approved at this time. Marshall said it could be reconsidered in the next annual transit expansion cycle.

Electoral Area E director Bob Rogers wanted to know BC Transit’s rationale for not expanding the handyDART services.

“That seems to me is something that would have been a high priority,” said Rogers. “I am just wondering, what is the likelihood of approval sooner rather than later?”

Marshall said that they have not had the opportunity to discuss this issue yet. He expects talks to take place in the next month or so.

“We’ll request an understanding of why we’re declined those service hours,” said Marshall.

In the coming months, RDN and BC Transit staff will collaborate to prepare for the implementation of these expanded transit services, Marshall said, as well as other priorities.

Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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