As BC Transit (BCT) estimates delivery of bus can take up to 18 months, more frequent Sunshine Coast Transit Route 90 service between downtown Sechelt and the Langdale ferry terminal is now projected for January 2025.
Having a new bus on the Coast to do weekday Route 90 service every 30 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. won’t likely happen next year, a Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) Sept. 28 committee of the whole meeting agenda report states. It notes an expansion of local HandyDART service hours on Saturdays and Sundays could be in place by July 2024.
In October 2022, the SCRD and BCT planned to have the two services expanded by September of this year. The regional district approved and then removed its share of those priority project costs in its budget, as BCT was not funded for service expansions in the 2023 provincial budget. That meant at least a year’s delay for both.
To notify BCT of the SCRD’s 2024 transit service expansion priorities as soon as possible (and potentially get a bus ordered), the report recommends the committee forward its decisions for consideration at the board’s Sept. 28 meeting.
Maintenance and staffing challenges
The wait for equipment is not the only complicating factor. The report states a study on accommodating the growing transit fleet at the SCRD’s Mason Road works yards is to be completed later this year. That will examine “planning for property options and future investments” that may be necessary.
“It should be noted, that driver recruitment and retention continue to be challenging and the expansion will require additional drivers and training,” the report states. The expansion will require 1.2 additional full-time positions filled.
Annual additions of 2,500 hours operating hours to Route 90 and 550 hours of HandyDART services are estimated to increase the regional district’s costs by $249,700 for BCT’s 2024/2025 operating year.
Current service levels
HandyDART services, door-to-door transport for registered clients with mobility limits that preclude use of conventional transit, are currently available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The service does not operate Sundays or statutory holidays.
On Route 90, buses are scheduled every 30 minutes on weekdays through most hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last expansion to the schedule of this route, which the SCRD reports accounts for 55 per cent of the local system's ridership, happened in 2017.