Regional District of Nanaimo’s transit select committee will consider a recommendation related to an upgraded transit exchange in the north-end of Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

RDN looking at upgrading or relocating Woodgrove transit exchange

Current bus loop at north Nanaimo mall at capacity, says staff report

Regional District of Nanaimo’s transit select committee will consider a recommendation next week related to potential relocation of the bus loop at Woodgrove Centre.

According to an RDN staff report, the north-end transit exchange is at capacity, with 1,000 riders using Woodgrove daily and that number is forecast to increase to as many as 3,000 a day in the next 10-15 years. At the Tuesday, Jan. 21 committee meeting, directors will consider whether to recommend the RDN partner with B.C. Transit and mall owner Ivanhoé Cambridge to develop an agreement examining an upgrade for the transit exchange.

Daniel Pearce, RDN transportation and emergency services general manager, said a study was conducted last year looking into potential transit exchange locations in Nanaimo’s north end.

“We’ve narrowed it down to still being on Woodgrove’s property and from that report it did say that one of the best options would be on Woodgrove’s property,” said Pearce. “We’ve started dialogue with Ivanhoé Cambridge and from there we’ve been trying to figure out where a good location would be. We’re definitely in good discussions and they’re willing to work with us and we do know that, from our ridership, that one of the major destinations is Woodgrove mall.”

Four other sites were examined: Calinda Street, Hammond Bay Road at Green Thumb Nursery, a Woodgrove property off the old Island Highway, and Aulds Road and Island Highway across Aulds south of the mall.

The bus loop’s current mall location met a majority of criteria from Watt Consulting Group, enlisted to conduct a high-level review of potential locations.

Authorization from the board is sought to work with the mall owners and continue down the path on where to build a new exchange, how it would look and what funding would be available, Pearce said.

According to the staff report, Ivanhoé Cambridge would pay for one-third of the cost of the study, for a maximum share of $16,666 while the RDN would have a maximum share of $17,770 and B.C. Transit $15,564.

If the committee green-lights the recommendation, it would be forwarded to the RDN’s board for approval.

Watt Consulting Group considered a number of factors in its review, including accessibility for buses, overall trip time, ridership impacts and overall operating cost implications.

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