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Dude, where’s my ride?

Parksville Qualicum Beach News— Tuesday, June 6th, 2017 9:30am

B.C. municipalities have made great strides in the expansion of public transportation in recent years. Baby steps, however, remain the order of business in some areas.

Consider the BC Ferries terminal at Duke Point, where public transportation suddenly becomes a very private affair for walk-on passengers arriving from the mainland on sailings from Tsawwassen.

The current options for connecting to Nanaimo and beyond are to hail a taxi, arrange pickup by another driver, or stick out your thumb and hope for the best.

The Regional District of Nanaimo is now taking a look at adding transportation services to Duke Point, following a request to its transit select committee that has received rousing support from a surprising number of elected officials and business organizations.

Among the backers of a bus to the point are MLAs from Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Cowichan-Ladysmith and Nanaimo, as well as the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA).

A new transit line linking Duke Point with Nanaimo and the rest of the Island would benefit not only ferry travellers, but employees of businesses on the point. Indeed, the RDN’s current exploration came out of a request by Philippe Lucas, vice president of the Tilray medical cannabis plant at Duke Point.

Typically, costs for public transportation on Vancouver Island are shared by BC Transit and rider fares, with local municipalities subsidizing the remainder.

There are a number of obvious questions to be answered in the creation of a bus route to Duke Point, not the least of which is, what will it cost RDN taxpayers? Will buses be scheduled for all ferry arrivals, or just selected sailings? How many passengers might be expected to ride at any given time?

But these are questions worth asking.

Those mid-Island MLAs seem willing to bet their future electability on the long-term benefit of adding this public transportation option, which could indirectly benefit travellers from the Malahat to the north end of Vancouver Island. More than 80 per cent of respondents to an informal PQB NEWS poll agree.

Ultimately, it will be up to the RDN transit committee to render a verdict: thumbs up, or thumbs out?


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