Thursday, January 24, 2008

Back from the BC Transit Open House

I went to the BC Transit open house held at the Sandman on Douglas at Hillside. They had on display the Bus Rapid Transit plans for Douglas.

The expected savings for buses along the route is in the range of 5 minutes. This does not sound like a huge amount, but it drops a time out to Langford from 48 minutes to 43 minutes. Once the BRT is extended along Hwy #1 the time will drop to 43 minutes.

The BRT will take you from downtown to Town and Country in just over 10 minutes and there will be buses every few minutes. This should change the nature of how transit is used along the Douglas corridor.

I saw the plans for the exchange at Carey Road near to Town and Country. Finally there will be a proper bus exchange at what should be the most important point in the system.

All the buses will come into the Carey Road exchange, including the Saanich Peninsula buses. This location will make for a very important hub and spoke in the transit system. This is a far cry from what I remember from the 1980s when the only option you had was to take a bus downtown and then change there to anywhere else. Only the 26 did not fit this model.

I also like what I heard about the buses out to the Peninsula. Starting in the fall there will be an express bus out to the ferry every half and hour in daytime hours. The new express bus will shave 20 minutes off of the trip into town from the ferry. Sidney will have a bus coming into to town once every 15 minutes. The Sidney buses will also be routed down Douglas instead of Blanshard.

I raised my concern that all the left turn and U turn options along Douglas would reduce the time savings of the buses. It seems that this might be the case. The buses could be a few minutes faster if all these left turn options were not going to be offered.

The buses will also have some control over the lights, they will be able to extend the greens and be able to cycle a red to green faster.

I had a chance to ask a long series of questions of planners while I was at the open house. They were very much in line with my thinking on rail transit: very expensive to build, expensive to operate, no route in place, not enough of a population to support it, and generally a very bad fit for Greater Victoria.

In one conversation at the open house with a man looking at the plans, the issue of rail from Duncan came up. It was then that I remembered we already have a bus service from Duncan to Victoria. You can take the Greyhound from Duncan to Victoria in one hour and ten minutes. From Malahat it is 40 minutes to downtown Victoria. The round trip cost from Malahat is $10.30. The service is there, how many people make use of it?
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