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Cowichan transit receives funding for some increased services

But CVRD disappointed more funding not provided
BC Transit will fund some expansion of routes in the Cowichan region this year, but the CVRD says it’s not enough. (Citizen file photo)

Bus transit services in the Cowichan Valley will receive funding to expand some routes, and to introduce basic Sunday service on a number of routes.

BC Transit will add 1,400 hours to a number of its routes this year that will be allocated to deal with the significant demand for increased service during peak times on some routes, and for the Sunday service.

As well, BC Transit will add 500 hours to the Nanaimo-Cowichan Express (NCX) route to extend evening service on Fridays and Saturdays.

But Rachelle Rondeau, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s transit analyst, told the district’s committee of the whole at in a report at its meeting on March 27 that BC Transit denied the request for funding for 2,700 hours to implement Phase 1 of the South Cowichan Local Area Transit Plan, including improvements to Eagle Heights; to introduce Saturday service on Route 7x (Cowichan Lake Express); and to add a trip to Route 6 (the Duncan/Chemainus/Crofton route).


She said that, unfortunately, the Cowichan Valley conventional transit system did not emerge as a priority this year in BC Transit’s funding formula.

“To not receive expansion funding despite the significant amount of time spent over the past few years, including two key transit improvement plans, public engagements, and consultation with First Nations, is very disappointing and in staff’s opinion limits ridership growth in the region,” Rondeau said.

“(BC Transit’s) Transit Future Action Plan, which was endorsed in early 2023, proposed improvements over the next five years with… expansion hours being a primary action item. We understand that going forward, BC Transit will be considering possible modifications to their expansion-evaluation criteria to balance and better allocate service hours across systems of all sizes.”

Rondeau pointed out that the last time the CVRD received provincial funding for expanding its conventional transit service was in 2018, and it did not received expansion funding for the next three years due to the pandemic.


“In 2022/23, we asked for 1,500 hours for improvements to route 5, and most recently for 2023/24 we asked for the same 1,500 hours plus an additional 800 for routes 6 and 7, but this total of 2,300 hours was also recently not approved,” she said.

Ian Morrison, the director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls, said the CVRD should investigate whether BC Transit’s funding formula can be modified because there’s desperate improvements needed in Cowichan Valley’s transit system.

“I’m saddened because the views of transit in my area is that it’s the absolute last resort that people look to as an option, and we’ve always tried to make transit a viable option for people to live, work and play but it’s just not viewed that way,” he said.

“Clearly, it looks like the province is really interested in transit as a key component of its environmental strategy, but they’re leaving entire communities behind. We have to somehow get BC Transit to understand that investments in these areas will make a big difference. We can’t continue on this path of trying to make improvements but not having the hours to do it.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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