Friday, February 22, 2008

The Busway - Victoria's Ugly Duckling

It seems almost no one is willing to come out and speak enthusiastically for the bus rapid transit on Douglas.

Let us review the situation:

There is more and more demand to be able to move people out to the western communities and Douglas backs up badly during rush hour.

The BRT would immediately speed up transit for people by five to eight minutes with only the Douglas section, this may not seem like a lot, but this is a 10 to 15% improvement in the transit time for people from Langford. This is enough of an improvement to move people into the buses - even a small transition of people into buses would make a big difference for everyone.

The BRT would have an even more dramatic impact for people living out in the Glandford/Marigold area. They would see their transit trip improve by 20% to 30%. For someone living off of Carey or Glandford, a trip downtown to an office would be under 30 minutes door to door. People agitating for the Light Rail system seem to always forget that the BRT offers options for multiple different routes, something rail can never do.

The time savings of the BRT means that the transit system effectively gains one bonus bus per 8 that operate on the route. Each bus is saving about seven minutes each in time. With nine buses you save an hour of time and the nine buses have moved as many people as 10 could. Once the whole network is in place, the existing buses in Greater Victoria will be able to move significantly more people than now.

There still remains this backlash from businesses along Douglas because of the loss of on street parking and left turn bays. Frankly the number of people turning left in any given block is tiny. The use of the left turn bays are intersections is low along the whole route except for Burnside and Hillside. The few left turn bays lost, and it is only a few, will have no measurable effect on business.

The businesses along the route already look like they are in trouble. The ones that seem to rely on on street parking are weak looking in any case. Will this businesses survive in any case? Anyone in a retail business along the Douglas strip should be looking at relocating. Without the BRT the congestion along Douglas is going to become intolerable and make the route everyone will avoid. With BRT and the turning bays, they movement of people will be better and the access to the businesses will be better.
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