Uptown-Downtown Alignment Issues & Opportunities – July 2010
BC Transit is undertaking a survey to better understand the implications for businesses of establishing a rapid transit system connecting Victoria to the West Shore via Douglas Street. This survey, developed in cooperation with the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Association of Douglas Street Businesses, Downtown Victoria Business Association and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, is being conducted this month by Victoria-based R.A. Malatest and Associates. The survey will interview businesses and their customers on Douglas Street between Uptown and Downtown, as well as those that might be affected by a Douglas/Blanshard or Douglas/Government couplet or loop arrangement.
I am assuming fiscal sanity continues to prevail at BC Transit and that they will put forward bus rapid transit as the best option for our needs and for our wallets. Certainly the recent E&N study does not indicate that there is a lot of potential demand for rail transit. Going forward with bus rapid transit means that the system has the highest degree of flexibility as to route.
I can predict some of the answers they will get - businesses will push to have it not on their street, they will also push for no loss in parking or access to their businesses. The answers are predictable, the question is what will BC Transit do with the responses they get?
From a business perspective, rapid transit along Blanshard makes the most sense, though for access to the Westshore I am not sure this is the best route. BC Transit will have to consider the strong message they get from business to put rapid transit on Blanshard and how they will address this.
A Blanshard route would require some way to shift the buses from Blanshard to Highway #1. There would have to be some sort of an bus overpass to get transit eastbound across to Ravine Way and then onto Blanshard. Downtown there are issues as well. At which point do you shift over to Douglas, at Pandora?
Really the system only works if there is a way for buses to avoid the long lines in and out of town, it is only jumping those queues that bus rapid transit makes any sense.
It is doable and will be hard to dismiss as a route if you get the strong reaction from the business community that I expect. If really does not work, a bus rapid transit system can be shifted much more easily than any rail based system.
One final aspect that needs to be considered in general with respect to rapid transit and rail based transit, the route BC Transit is looking at versus where the E&N is. The decision to develop a route from Langford to Downtown via Uptown means there will never be a case for rail based transit on the E&N.