An increase to transit service, which would see buses come every 20 minutes along Dogwood and Alder streets, could be rolled out as early as this September.
Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, said the city is expected to benefit from the addition of two new transit hubs, or exchanges, similar to what’s at the Community Centre, as well as greater frequency of service along the Dogwood/Alder corridor.
“This change in service will see some modifications to the routes, schedules and the need for two additional buses,” Hadfield said. “These improvements are in process, and will see a full roll out of the system changes starting in September.”
The expansion plan has been in play by BC Transit since last year but was contingent on funding being brought forward by the province.
In February, the increased funding for transit operations was announced in the B.C. budget, enabling BC Transit to follow through with its expansion plans.
The wait continues, though, as the provincial budget was never officially approved prior to the B.C. election.
But Myrna Moore, senior regional transit manager for BC Transit, remains optimist.
“Pending approval of the provincial budget, the new three-year funding agreement will be established,” Moore said.
Should the expansion plans pan out as presented, Campbell River stands to see an increase in service of 1,500 hours annually and the addition of two new buses.
Hadfield said last December the plan will cost the city roughly $32,000 between September and December of this year and $128,000 every year after that.
The figures are based on a cost sharing agreement under which the city pays 53 per cent of public transit costs while the province picks up the remaining 47 per cent.
The city does, however, have the benefit of receiving 100 per cent of the revenue generated through fares and advertising on the buses.
Hadfield said BC Transit representatives are scheduled to present to council at its June 20 Committee of the Whole meeting which will give council the opportunity to discuss the expansion plan, particularly the two transit hubs which are slated for either end of the city.
The hubs, planned for Willow Point and Campbellton, have been a cause for concern for council because of the location originally chosen for the Campbellton exchange – on 16th Avenue in between where Highway 19 splits in two directions near the Esso gas station.
“I know the public safety sub-committee and the Campbellton (Neighbourhood) Association has had some concerns about the – I call it interchange – proposed for Campbellton,” said Coun. Larry Samson at the May 23 council meeting. “At what time do we get a chance to look at this or discuss it? At what point in the process?”
Hadfield said council will have that opportunity at the June 20 meeting but added that BC Transit has already made some tweaks to its original plan.
“They have gone out to the public and have done an online survey and adjusted a number of their proposed plans associated with that feedback and feel that they’ve addressed a number of the concerns addressed by the public at that time,” Hadfield said.
In the meantime, council has endorsed its 2017/18 annual operating agreement with BC Transit which includes service levels, outlines transit fares (which remain the same), and contains the transit budget.