Three transit-related motions that were expected to be debated at the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Dec. 10 regular meeting were referred back to the transit select committee. (News Bulletin file)

Report examining free student bus passes detours to RDN transit committee

RDN board votes in favour of referring bus-related motions to January committee meeting

A motion for a report looking into free busing for high school students will take a detour to the committee level before it returns to the board table.

Tyler Brown, Regional District of Nanaimo director and transit select committee chairman, introduced a motion at the RDN’s Dec. 10 meeting asking for a report examining transit in Kingston, Ont., which has free, subsidized transit for older students. Notices of motion were given to RDN administration in mid-November, but not in a meeting, and a slight majority of board members deemed it would be proper procedure to refer back to the committee.

Brown told the board the Kingston model was one that has garnered interest from the likes of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and said the Ontario city has a transit system similar to the RDN. In the span of 10 years, Kingston doubled its ridership, according to a staff report.

RELATED: Free student bus pass idea coming before RDN

The motions couldn’t be brought to the transit committee meeting on Nov. 21, because it was cancelled, said Brown. Furthermore, there is no date or timeline and the motion is only acknowledging there are innovative transit-related happenings in Kingston, which the RDN could learn from and possibly adapt, he said.

“Let’s get a little bit more information and have that information presented to us when it makes sense as we do numerous initiatives in 2020,” said Brown.

Ed Mayne, Parksville mayor and director, spoke in favour of referring the motion to the committee level and said Kingston and Nanaimo may be similar in some ways, but there are differences.

“We’re comparing two different animals,” said Mayne. “We need to have staff with enough time to be able to look at this. Kingston, I know it very well, has three universities. The geographic area of the City of Kingston is about half the size of the City of Nanaimo, let alone the region that we’re covering … at the end of the day, we have to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples on this, so I think we take the time. As much as we’d like to all get it done and get it off the table, you need to take the time to make sure we’re making the right decisions.”

Stuart McLean, Don Bonner, Brown, Ben Geselbracht, Erin Hemmens, Adam Fras, Mark Swain and Brian Wiese were directors voting against referring the Kingston report motion.

Brown and McLean, Area H director, also introduced respective motions requesting meetings between the RDN, B.C. Transit and representatives from Cowichan Valley and Comox Valley regional districts related to connecting transit systems. Both were also referred.

The next RDN transit select committee meeting is scheduled for Jan. 16.


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