Every day, 115,000 passengers get on to a bus in Greater Victoria, totalling more than 27 million rides in 2018-2019.
And ridership is growing. But that pressure is creating problems for riders.
On Thursday, a joint announcement by Ottawa and the province of $79 million in BC Transit translates into 118 buses throughout B.C., including 75 vehicles for Greater Victoria. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who took part in the announcement before attending a Liberal fundraiser, said it will ease congestion for commuters on the West Shore.
“Investments like this will help shorten that commute by addressing congestion and getting everyone home just a little sooner,” Trudeau said.
The news is part of a regional transportation plan to ease congestion, particularly to and from the West Shore, according to BC Transit CEO Erinn Pinkerton.
“The number of buses we have going out every single day there is full. We’re passing up people. We’re hearing from customers, even not a pass up, but being on a bus standing all the way to Sooke is not an enjoyable experience,” Pinkerton said.
Twenty-one buses will be based out of BC Transit’s Langford depot. The plan is to try to meet the demand for the growing region.
“For anybody who is new to the region, or looking to move the transit future plan outlines clearly where we plan on putting rapid transit, frequent transit, and local services,” Pinkerton said.
That includes the priority bus lanes that will take buses and riders to and from the downtown core to the Juan de Fuca bus station. But the announcements are not enough for the Better Transit Alliance, they point to growing congestion as a problem.
“We really need bus lanes to be finished from downtown Victoria to the West Shore in order to take advantage of having those buses run on schedule,” Eric Diller with Better Transit Alliance.
Riders in downtown Victoria say any increase or improvements are overdue.