The aim of almost quadrupling transit ridership on the Sunshine Coast over the next 25 years “is ambitious and will require considerable strategic action,” BC Transit said in a report updating the region’s transit future plan.
Authored by senior transit planner Rebecca Newlove and presented to Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors on Feb. 7, the report summarizes the feedback from public engagement sessions held in early December and sets draft goals and targets for the future.
More frequent service — especially on Route 1 from Langdale — topped the list of needed improvements identified by almost 300 people who filled out an on-line survey, and by stakeholders and bus riders who were also surveyed.
“There is generally good agreement that the buses are comfy and clean, that the drivers are courteous, the transit system is safe and reliable, the fares are reasonable and the schedule information is available and accurate,” Newlove said. “However, in addressing an aspect of transit that respondents identified as most important — i.e., frequency of service — 48 per cent of respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed with the statement, ‘The transit system is frequent.’
“In addition, 44 per cent of respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed with the statement, ‘Bus stops have enough amenities.’”
Other suggested transit system improvements include:
• The need to split Route 1 into a highway express service and a separate run along Lower Road in Roberts Creek.
• Smaller sized buses in Lower Gibsons, Elphinstone and Roberts Creek.
• Flexible service with increased frequency from Lower Gibsons to Upper Gibsons and the Langdale terminal.
Better alignment of bus and ferry schedules was also a priority for respondents, who said they want the transit system to:
• Accommodate any ferry delays, especially in the summer.
• Provide earlier service on weekends to meet the 6:20 a.m. ferry.
• Recognize the time required to walk between the bus and the ferry.
• Enhance amenities at the Langdale terminal bus stop.
• Integrate fares with Vancouver’s TransLink system.
Respondents also pinpointed the areas that require new or added transit service: West Sechelt, North Road between Gibsons and Langdale, parts of Elphinstone and Gibsons, Sandy Hook and Tuwanek, Pender Harbour and Madeira Park, Mason Road, and Field Road in Wilson Creek to provide access to the SCRD offices.
The draft target for the plan was based on the SCRD’s goal of doubling transit ridership from 484,000 in 2010 to 968,000 by 2020, in line with the provincial transit plan, Newlove said.
At that rate, she said, the target would be 1.8 million rides per year by 2038.
Projecting continued growth at the current level, however, ridership would reach only 860,000 by 2038, demonstrating the ambitiousness of the target, she said.
A second public engagement process will take place in March and April to refine and finalize the draft vision, goals and targets for the final plan, which is expected to be complete in September.