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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 9:23 PM
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Commuter bus coming to Malahat this fall

Commuter bus coming to Malahat this fall

Will take 60 minutes to Shawnigan, 80 minutes to Cowichan Valley
Andrew A. Duffy, Times Colonist

Published: Thursday, May 08, 2008

B.C. Transit will start a commuter bus service between downtown Victoria and the Cowichan Valley this fall, a move designed to ease congestion on the Malahat section of the Trans-Canada Highway and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Eight buses, with high-backed chairs, reading lights and light-luggage racks, will be purchased with $4.3 million from the province.

In its first year, the service is expected to sell 70,000 rides.

"Commuters from the Cowichan Valley will soon have a comfortable, affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to driving into Victoria in their cars every day. They can take the bus and relax while helping to relieve congestion on the Malahat," said Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon.

B.C. Transit, the Victoria Regional Transit Commission and the Cowichan Valley Regional District have yet to work out details on who will pay for the running of the buses.

Operating costs for the eight buses are estimated at $775,000 a year, with the province committed to paying $362,000 annually based on a funding formula already in place with B.C. Transit.

Fares will offset some of those costs, but it's likely Greater Victoria and Cowichan Valley taxpayers will have to foot some of the bill.

That raised the ire of the Opposition yesterday, which argued the plan doesn't include the necessary operating costs, or factor in the costs of building park-and-ride facilities.

"Population is expanding in the region and a transit plan must include a realistic look at commuter rail on the E&N corridor," said Malahat-Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan. "A bus solution without full operating costs won't help solve the issues commuters face today."

Falcon suggested it's unrealistic not to expect taxpayers to pay for new services.

"Yes, local people are going to pay for a new service that's coming into place, of course they are," he said. "If we want to expand transit options for people, we've got to make sure those options are there, and all of us will contribute towards it.

"We all pay and we all get the benefit, and the environmental benefit is significant," Falcon said.

A rail service requires more study while a bus service can be put in place quickly, said B.C. Transit CEO Manuel Achadinha.

"People are looking for solutions now, and by offering this service it's something we can provide in the immediate term," he said. "There's a demand out there, and it's really about how nimble we are at Transit to be able to adapt and meet those demands."

B.C. Transit vice-president Ron Drolet said work will now begin on details of the project, establishing the routes, stops, fares and required infrastructure.

"To make this work you have the service integrated, determining where local buses and commuter link transfers occur, and over time develop park-and-ride, and do the tariff," he said.

Drolet estimated fares could be between $5 and $10 one way, noting a three-zone fare in Vancouver (Maple Ridge to downtown for example) is $5.

"Maybe it's something in that $5 range, maybe a little more or less," he said.

What is known at this point is the service will run from Duncan to Victoria on a route that will take about 80 minutes, and run a one-hour route from Shawnigan Lake to Victoria each weekday morning, with the reverse trip in the evening.

Both routes will have three round trips each day.

The provincial funds are part of the $14-billion provincial transit plan announced this year, which aims to double transit ridership provincewide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars by 4.7 million tonnes by 2020.

The service over the Malahat was a recommendation of the Malahat Corridor Study released last June. The study researched options for increasing safety and reliability along the highway and recommended a commuter bus service on the Malahat as a way of decreasing congestion.

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Old Posted Sep 6, 2008, 6:17 AM
lightrail lightrail is offline
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October start possible for Malahat bus
Lexi Bainas, The Citizen
Published: Friday, September 05, 2008

A commuter bus service connecting the Cowichan Valley and Victoria could be reality as soon as late October, according to a regional district official.
Joe Barry, corporate secretary of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, said Wednesday that enthusiasm from governments at all levels is moving the project along, but now the CVRD wants to hear from the public.
Three open houses are being scheduled for Sept. 20 to hear ideas from prospective riders on routes and schedules. Attendance is expected to be heavy.

"There's been a lot of interest on this. I can say I've had more phone calls and emails on this than probably any other proposed expansion in the five years I've been here," Barry said, about early reaction to the proposed rush-hour service.

"Obviously there are people who want to save money on gas but there are also people who just don't want to drive that road in the dark in the pouring rain in the winter months," he said.

The desire to better spend that commuting time is also a strong motivator for some people.

"When you're driving yourself, you have to concentrate on the road but if you're in a bus with a reclining seat you can take a laptop or a portable DVD player, which would be my choice. You can also take a book, of course, or there will be some people who sleep. You have just added another hour to your day," Barry said.

How soon the commuter buses will actually start rolling is "the million dollar question," he said.

"We are hoping when all the approvals come through that perhaps this can be running by late October, early November. The exact start date hasn't been decided yet because the approvals are falling into place."

A bylaw amendment was given three readings at the last CVRD board meeting authorizing the needed changes so, on Sept. 10, Barry hopes, the Transit Committee will approve the details in principle.

"We're hoping to adopt the bylaw amendment at the end of September. The various municipalities and the electoral area directors need to give consent to the adoption of the bylaw. The bylaw will then be sent off to the province for approval. If approved, and if expedited by the province, we're going to have a special board meeting on Sept. 30," he said.

Meanwhile, details also are going to be presented to the Victoria Transit Commission in mid-September.

"We are taking the plans to the political bodies in Victoria and here for their approval first off because if there are any changes they want to see at the political level we can make those changes before the open houses. This is a shared venture."

The public meetings Sept. 20 are really important, according to Barry.
"Right now it's a total clean slate. Where are the buses going to go? Where are they going to come from? What times? This is where we can actually hear from people who are going to be doing the commute. We may have a number of people say: 'Hey, I have to be at the corner of Douglas and Fort Streets for 7:15 a.m. What time is the first bus going to get into Victoria?' Stuff like that is what we need to hear."

These three get-togethers on Sept. 20 are tentatively scheduled for the Malahat Fire Hall, first thing in the morning, then the Kerry Park Recreation Centre in late morning and then at the Island Savings Centre (formerly Cowichan Centre) later in the day.

Original details of the service were announced by the province some time ago.
"This is the first time, to my knowledge, that this has ever happened in the province," Barry said. "They have bought eight buses. That doesn't happen. The province really wants this to go forward, to deal with the issues we all are quite aware of on the Malahat. Two of the buses will be spares because we have to provide a reliable service."

Barry reiterated that the service is scheduled for rush-hour commuters only.
"I've had people phone up thinking the bus is going to run back and forth all day. No, it isn't," he said.

Shoppers can still take the buses but must remember the schedule is not there to suit them.

"They're going to get there really early, long before any stores open." However, another group that will be interested are students going to UVic.
There are going to be three buses leaving Duncan in the morning at staggered times, but still early.

"When you do the math backwards, the last bus has got to leave here at about 7 a.m.," he said.

The other three buses will go from the Shawnigan Lake area to Victoria, also on staggered schedules, making a total of six buses south in the morning and six buses north in late afternoon.

The vehicles will be headquartered in Duncan at the CVRD's current transit garage, according to Barry.
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Old Posted Sep 13, 2008, 5:10 AM
lightrail lightrail is offline
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Malahat Commuter Service to start on October 20, 2008

The service implementation date of the Malahat Connector Service is October 20, 2008, made possible by a 100% operating contribution from the provincial government for the period of October 20 – December 31, 2008, at which time the CVRD and VRTC will assume responsibility for the standard local share of costs.

Route 66 Duncan-Victoria Connector will make three trips in the AM peak to Victoria and three trips to Duncan in the PM peak.
Route 99 Shawnigan-Victoria Connector will make three trips in the AM peak to Victoria and three trips to Shawnigan in the PM peak

Both routes will route via Hwy 1 and Douglas to the Victoria Regional Transit System's terminus for suburban buses on Superior at Government (same terminus used for the Saanich Peninsula and Sooke services).

Between trips, all six buses will be stored at Ogden Point. The drivers will be driven back to Duncan via Van, and then back to Victoria in the afternoon for the return trips.

Some observations:
Seems a waste to park the buses during the day, but I assume there are union issues in the Victoria system that prevents the buses and drivers being used in Victoria.

I would have liked to see some integration with the existing Greyhound service by including those trips in the schedules and offering fare tickets priced the same as the BC Transit service - similar to the arrangement on the Sea-to-sky Transit System connecting Squamish and Whistler.

Ticket price is $8.00 to Duncan (60km) and $6.00 to Shawingan/Mill Bay (45km) - this seems excessive given that trips on the Victoria System from Victoria to Swartz Bay (32km) and to Sooke (45km) are $2.25.

Inbound buses will be discharge only in Greater Victoria and outbound will be pick-up only.

Implementation Report here

Malahat Connector Website here

Last edited by lightrail; Sep 13, 2008 at 5:26 AM.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2019, 6:13 PM
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SpongeG SpongeG is online now
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I used this a few years ago, it was really convenient and was well used when I used it.
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Old Posted Dec 5, 2019, 7:43 PM
melissasandever melissasandever is online now
April Melissa Sandever
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Originally Posted by SpongeG View Post
I used this a few years ago, it was really convenient and was well used when I used it.
Was simply going to comment also the same thing when I used the service it was great for what it was to get to Duncan!
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Old Posted Dec 5, 2019, 9:51 PM
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Dengler Avenue Dengler Avenue is online now
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I guess that means we can leave TCH through Goldstream and Malahat as is then? It's great to hear that these routes are well used.
On ne rien manquera.
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