Travelling to Coombs from Parksville or Qualicum Beach, or vice-versa, is a problem when you don’t have your own vehicle.
That’s because Electoral Area F, which encompasses the community of Coombs-Hilliers and Errington along Highway 4A, does not have a transit service. BC Transit, in partnership with Regional District of Nanaimo, are now working to address that problem.
A feasibility study was conducted in 2016. The report presented to the BC Transit Select Committee on Sept. 27 pointed out that Coombs, which has 1,500 residents, experiences an overwhelming amount of tourists coming to the area during peak summer months, due particularly to the Coombs Country Market. This often leads to traffic congestion and parking issues.
As well, residents in Area F generally access services in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo, such as hospital and government offices.
Most of the residents also work outside their community.
In her report, superintendent for transit planning and scheduling, Erica Beauchamp, stated a transit route in Area F would greatly benefit residents as it would reduce car dependency and connect them to the centres where they can access services and jobs.
BC Transit and RDN reviewed two options. They recommended the flexible transit option, built on a fixed route but with extra time added into the trips to allow the buses to go off-route within two kilometres to provide door-to-door pickup and/or drop off. The report highlighted the benefit of this flexible model is it provides the predictability of scheduled service for the general population while also providing a higher level of access.
The estimated cost of the service is $225,500 to $223,100 annually.
ARBOC buses will be used for this route which will operate in both directions between Parksville and Qualicum, serving Coombs via Highway 4.
Connections would be available in Parksville and Qualicum Beach. The bus will be able to seat 16-20 passengers and from three-to-six wheelchairs.