Transit as we know it might need to make a U-turn for residents north of Parksville.
The current bus system visits the Deep Bay/Bowser region once per week, taking passengers back and fourth to Nanaimo only on Tuesdays.
However, after last week’s regular RDN meeting directors passed a motion to send correspondence to the Comox Valley Regional District inquiring about the possibility of working together to provide daily bus service to Deep Bay/ Bowser. The route would go southbound connecting to Courtenay/Comox, instead of northbound connecting to Nanaimo, as it currently operates.
“We’re cutting new grounds,” said director Bill Veenhof, who represents the area, about collaborating with another regional district.
While Veenhof assured the motion doesn’t mean transit service to Nanaimo will come to a halt any time in the immediate future, he did say daily transit service going south has been an ongoing issue in his constituency.
“It intuitively makes sense from an efficiency and effectiveness point of view,” he said, noting it takes roughly 50 minutes to drive to Nanaimo whereas it takes only half an hour to drive to Comox.
Veenhof called this project “interesting” in that it starts a conversation that could benefit the province as a whole.
“It’s interesting because nobody is sharing resources across regional boundaries, be it transit or anything,” he said. “These regional boundaries sometimes feel like national boundaries.”
Veenhof said before any changes are made there will be thorough public consultation with the community in an effort to “figure out the best solution.”
While a northbound bus route may make more sense geographically, there are still a handful of riders who do use the southbound service going to Nanaimo.
Veenhof said if residents were willing to pay higher taxes for more services it would be possible to maintain two separate routes: one to Nanaimo and one to Comox.
RDN general manager of transportation and solid waste services Dennis Trudeau said extending bus service from Deep Bay/Bowser to Comox is on the regional district’s “future plan.”
Trudeau said sharing transit services with a neighbouring regional district is “very unique.”
He called it “treading on new ground.”
Trudeau said last week’s motion gave RDN staff some direction