The Sunshine Coast Transit System will add trips between Sechelt and Langdale next year and service to Chatelech Secondary School under a revised three-year plan approved July 24 by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) board.
Under the original plan, a scheduled Pender Harbour service was going to be added for 2015/16, but Area A director Frank Mauro requested it be deferred until the results of a recently introduced community bus service could be measured.
Staff had been asked to substitute enhanced service for Halfmoon Bay in 2015/16 but came back with a recommendation to wait until 2017/18 to increase frequency in Halfmoon Bay and introduce the Pender Harbour service at the same time.
Combining the two is logical “as this will allow for easier scheduling connection options, and overall efficiencies will likely result,” transit manager Rob Williams said in a report to the corporate and administrative services committee.
Williams said increased frequency on the Route 90 express between Sechelt and Langdale had been recommended because “it was the most noted request throughout the Transit Future Plan process, and therefore should be the short-term investment and service enhancement priority.”
The added frequency “will also help reduce wait times for passengers leaving Langdale,” which will “potentially help reduce the number of ferry-schedule-related complaints” and “improve rider support for the system,” Williams said.
Increasing the number of trips on Route 90 will mean adding one heavy-duty bus to the fleet and 2,000 annual hours of service. Under the memorandum of understanding with BC Transit, the total cost is estimated at $229,000 and the SCRD’s share at $96,000, excluding internal costs.
The Chatelech service will add 200 annual hours of service for an estimated total cost of $19,000, with the SCRD’s share at just below $7,000.
For 2016/17, the plan is to remove one-heavy duty bus from the fleet and add six medium-duty buses, increasing trips on the Route 90 express to every half hour during peak times and adding hourly feeder routes for Roberts Creek and Gibsons.
Meanwhile, this year’s service improvements started in June with limited service to the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden in West Sechelt, but the bulk of changes will roll out in September, Williams said Tuesday.
These will include 2,500 additional hours on Route 90, with the extra trips using North Road rather than Marine Drive; improved connections between Route 2 (West Sechelt), Route 3 (Sechelt Arena) and Route 4 (Halfmoon Bay); and restructuring the West Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay runs to include additional stops.
Also on July 24, the board agreed to a motion by West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull for staff to report back in September with an estimate of the financial impact of providing bus passes to all students within School District 46.
Roberts Creek director Donna Shugar opposed the motion at the committee stage “because it’s not inclusive,” she said. “There are students that are home-schooled and in other schools as well.”
Turnbull said home-school students are registered with the school district.
“Not all of them,” Shugar replied.
Staff was asked to prepare the report for the Sept. 4 infrastructure services committee meeting.
© Coast Reporter