With a future transit growth study underway, feasibility of a new bus maintenance depot for the Regional District of Nanaimo is being examined.
RDN Transit and funding partner B.C. Transit are working on a 25-year transit facility master plan, with a “high-level facility investment phasing and costing strategy” among the objectives. The current Applecross Road facility is 56 years old and only has capacity for 70 buses, said James Wadsworth, B.C. Transit project development manager, at a transit select committee meeting Thursday, Jan. 19.
“As we change the transit network and move the service levels up, in 25 years, if we’re making these investments in the communities, what number of buses do we need to be able to support?” he asked. “If we’re forecasting the growth that we’re seeing, we’re probably going to need facility that can support over 200 buses. Right now we’ve got 73 buses in the fleet and I know there’s significant plans over the next few years … to really increase service levels.”
Based on past experience, Wadsworth said it takes several years to build a new facility.
“Investments in the existing facility, that could still be a two-year process to make improvements to the site,” he said. “When we do those, we work together with staff, we come to the board, provide updates and then we might ask for approval to do a project and then we prepare a business case and make a funding application to the provincial and federal governments.”
In an e-mail, Darren Marshall, RDN transportation services’ senior manager, said the plan is estimated to go before the board by late fall. While the Applecross Road facility is more than five decades old, it has seen improvements over the years, including addition of three service bays, compressed natural gas fuelling capability and expanded office space.
“[It] does not need any immediate improvements,” said Marshall. “The facility master plan study will help identify any short and long-term facility improvements and upgrades for future battery electric buses.”
Stuart McLean, committee chairperson, said the RDN currently has a request before the Province of B.C. for 20,000 transit service hours, and awaits the results, but said a new bus facility would require funding from the regional district.
“That would be outside of the expansion hours and running the buses. It’s going to be its own investment that we would need to decide on,” he said.
Should plans for a new facility progress, it would be contingent on approval from both B.C. Transit and RDN. Both would share costs for design and environmental assessments, he said.