The Regional District of Nanaimo is always looking for new innovations and other sustainanable approaches to improve the transit system.
The regional district is doing this in partnership with BC Transit.
Superintendent of fleet and transit Brandon Miller stated in his report to the Transit Select Committee at its meeting on July 12, that they are currently examining right-sizing of the fleet, electric buses, and three-position bike racks.
Currently, the RDN fleet has 50 new flyer, 40-foot, compressed natural gas heavy-duty buses and 18 ARBOC, 30’ diesel light-duty buses. The majority of the conventional transit routes in the RDN are being serviced by heavy-duty buses, and all of the custom transit (handyDART) routes are being serviced by light-duty buses.
The real-time technology and automatic passenger counters that were installed on the RDN fleet last May, aims to capture and analyze passenger boardings and alightings. The data collected will be applied by staff to make better informed future decisions on fleet size, routing, run-times, and bus stop locations.
BC Transit began developing an electric bus trial program which consists of five phases. They are preparation, discovery, testing service, revenue service, and report. From the trial, BC Transit aims to learn about the state of e-bus technology, range of buse and time required to charge the bus, required infrastructure and operational implications.
Since the RDN’s fleet is in year three of its current CNG investment cycle, exploring electric buses now will put the regional district in a good position because it still has ten years to go before they replace the buses, according to the report. The RDN is hoping that if the technology meets the standards, the regional district would be in a favourable position to transition to electric buses.
Another improvement BC Transit and the regional district are currently reviewing is 3-position bike rack.
At present, the RDN uses two-position bike rack on conventional fleet.
The evaluation for an additional space for a third bike was initiated earlier this year and a report is expected at the end of July, 2018.
Staff assessment of the three-position bike rack includes ensuring it does not contravene the BC Motor Act or the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
If the results of the evaluation proves to be positive and there are no safety issues, RDN Transit could install a 3-bike rack with the to be shared with BC Transit.