EDITORIAL: Catch the 22 bus

It's difficult for decision makers to determine the real need for increased transit service in Parksville Qualicum Beach

It’s a classic Catch-22.

How can the Regional District of Nanaimo justify the expense of better and more frequent bus service to communities in and around Parksville Qualicum Beach if there is no evidence of ridership to show its need?

But isn’t the ridership low because of the spotty, or non-existent, service?

It’s no real surprise a recent RDN survey revealed transit as the issue people are least satisfied with in terms of what the RDN supplies (see reporter Candace Wu’s story in this issue of The NEWS).

Imagine, if you will, being a 14 or 15 year old — or a senior who no longer drives, or a one-car family whose bread-winner has the vehicle all day — living in Nanoose Bay, Errington, Coombs, Whiskey Creek, Qualicum Bay, Bowser or Deep Bay. Most of those places have little or no bus service and that’s a considerable amount of people.

You are stuck. Or you bike. Or you walk, if you can. Or you continuously try to bum a ride. None of these options are all that great.

We, as a society, keep talking about reducing our carbon footprint. Oh yeah, we talk a good game, like the two women we witnessed on the ferry recently who climbed out of their older model, gas-guzzling SUV that sported all sorts of bumper stickers suggesting we must do everything in our power to stop pipelines, stop work in the oilsands, etc. etc.

There are buses now that burn cleaner fuel, but cash-strapped regional governments don’t have the resources to stretch their transit systems away from the most heavily-populated centres. This does nothing to reduce the amount of cars on the road.

There has to be some solutions to this quandary. A better organized car-pooling system through social media (the Errington Free Riders Association? Coombs Cars for Kids?) could be an answer. A bigger-picture answer would be to have more services available close to home (a major expansion of the West Errington Mall?) so people can walk. Not sure how that would work, however.

Then again, there is this train of thought: like those who live on Gulf Islands and complain about the ferries, didn’t the people who moved to these remote locations do so to stay away from the bustle of bigger communities, which includes transit? Just asking.

— Editorial by John Harding