Downtown Nanaimo’s transit exchange will stay on Front Street permanently.
Nanaimo council, at a meeting Monday, voted in favour of a governance and priorities committee recommendation to approve the permanent siting of an on-street bus exchange on Front Street.
The bus loop used to be on Prideaux Street in the Old City Quarter, but nearby bridge work this past spring necessitated the temporary relocation of the exchange to its now-permanent location across from Port Place shopping centre.
“Using the buses a fair amount, I notice that there’s a lot more people utilizing the transit exchange downtown as opposed to the one on Prideaux,” said Coun. Don Bonner after Monday’s council meeting. “There’s also a lot more room to move buses around, so I think it’s overall just a much better place and it does get people into the downtown core more.”
Coun. Tyler Brown said Nanaimo city council and the Regional District of Nanaimo board are aware of some safety and security concerns with the Front Street location.
“Proceeding forward, we will make sure that site has the lighting, has the safety, has the security that makes people feel comfortable taking the bus,” he said.
Brown added that the efficiency gains from the bus loop moving from Prideaux to Front equate to about two extra buses on the road per year.
“So we’re getting an exchange, which is great to have, but we’re also improving the efficiency of the system overall,” Brown said.
The city worked with consultant McElhanny on the downtown mobility hub, and according to a community input summary report, two other transit exchange locations were considered – Terminal Avenue and Commercial Street, and Cliff Street. The Terminal/Commercial location offered the highest capacity but there were concerns about locating it on a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure right-of-way and regional corridor. The Cliff Street location offered the same capacity as the Front Street location, but with less flexibility for expansion, and it required private property acquisition.
Based on 94 community input questionnaires, 80 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with Front Street as a permanent bus exchange location and only four per cent disagreed.
The governance and priorities committees’ recommendation includes directing city staff to work with the RDN to prepare a design for an on-street transit exchange.