Chanchal Thiara, president of the Vancouver Island Sikh Cultural Society, wants to see a bus service from the Cowichan valley to ferry terminals at Duke Point and Departure Bay. (File photo)

Chanchal Thiara, president of the Vancouver Island Sikh Cultural Society, wants to see a bus service from the Cowichan valley to ferry terminals at Duke Point and Departure Bay. (File photo)

Demand grows for transit from Cowichan to ferry terminals

CVRD says issue being studied

Chanchal Thiara wants to see a bus service between the Cowichan Valley and the ferry terminals in Duke Point and Departure Bay.

Thiara, president of the Vancouver Island Sikh Cultural Society which has its headquarters in Duncan, has sent emails to Aaron Stone, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, and the CVRD’s directors asking that the bus service to the ferry terminals be considered.

The CVRD partners with BC Transit to run the local public bus service.

Thiara said there are currently buses going from the Valley to Victoria and numerous other locations, but a bus service to the ferry terminals is still not a reality, despite the need for it.

“There are a lot of seniors in our society, and in the Valley in general, who would use such a service, and I expect it would be used by a lot of other people as well,” he said.

“It’s the only area where we lack such a bus service. The City of Nanaimo has just started a bus service to Cassidy airport, and it is expected to eventually also include the Duke Point ferry terminal. There may be some private conveyances running from the Valley to the ferry terminals, but they are too expensive for some people’s meagre incomes. We are all taxpayers and feel that this service is needed.”

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Thiara said even having just one bus make the run to the terminals in the morning, and then returning at about 7 p.m. each day, would be an incredible help to many in the area.

“I’m requesting that the CVRD take a sober and serious look at this indispensable need of our seniors and others in the community,” he said.

Aaron Stone said the board endorsed a connection to Nanaimo’s transit system in 2018, and the issue is currently being studied.

He said there have been workshops and meetings between BC Transit, the CVRD, authorities in the Nanaimo area and other groups, with another planned for next week, to figure out exactly what routes would be needed.

“There is currently transit from the Valley to Ladysmith, but no connection to the Nanaimo transit system,” Stone said.

“What is being considered is an express bus that would connect to the Nanaimo system.”

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Stone said that transit passengers from the Valley could then connect to a bus to Departure Bay, and eventually to Duke Point when the Nanaimo transit system goes to its ferry terminal.

“That means it would probably take about 20 or 30 minutes longer for passengers to get to the ferry terminals than a direct route to the terminals,” he said.

“Those routes are in the Nanaimo transit system and we can’t invade other jurisdictions without consultations.”

But Stone cautioned that it’s not known at this stage what will be recommended and endorsed in regards to bus routes to Nanaimo and the ferry terminals.

“We also still need to look at a number of issues, including fare structures,” he said.

“I expect something will come before the board in March on this issue and, hopefully, we can see some public consultations beginning in late March or April. Even after all the decisions are made, it would still take at least 18 months to procure the buses.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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