The plan to provide transit service from downtown Nanaimo to the Duke Point Ferry has completely stalled with no chance of getting it restarted this year.
The Transit Select Committee, at its meeting on March 22, voted against the recommendation by staff, which was directed to find the best way to apply the 5,000-hour annual conventional transit expansion that the Regional District of Nanaimo board approved for implementation this year.
Staff reviewed three options, which included evaluation of two route alignments to provide transit service to Duke Point Ferry Terminal and nearby industrial complexes. Service improvements to the Route 40 VIU Express, which experiences passenger crowding, was also explored.
Based on review of public feedback, analysis of routing, ferry data analysis of both Duke Point and Tsawwassen BC Ferries terminals, and consultation with BC Transit, staff favoured the Prideaux Street to Duke Point option and recommended it to the transit committee for approval. The route would have connected downtown Nanaimo to the ferry terminal as well as the industrial areas in Duke Point.
However, the committee voted against it. Seven directors opposed the Duke Point proposal — City of Nanaimo directors Bill Bestwick and Bill McKay, Electoral Area H director Bill Veenhof, Electoral Area E director Bob Rogers, Electoral Area C director Maureen Young, Electoral Area A director Alec McPherson, and Lantzville director Bob Colclough.
The transit committee instead voted to refer the implementation of this year’s 5,000-hour annual conventional transit expansion back to staff and requested staff to come back with a detailed study to provide frequency improvements to Route 40 Vancouver Island Express.
The Duke Point transit bus service has received support from the public, ferry passengers and the major employer in the area, Tilray, which employs around 170 full-time workers. Ferry foot passengers when arriving at Duke Point do not have other means of reaching downtown Nanaimo except by taxi or get someone to pick them up.
Staff analysis of current BC Ferries data indicates an average of 3,500 foot passengers arrive and depart the Duke Point ferry terminal each week.