The pressure continues to grow for a bus service between the Cowichan Valley and the ferry terminals in Duke Point and Departure Bay.
At its meeting on Jan. 29, North Cowichan’s council voted to write a letter to the Cowichan Valley Regional District requesting that the district, which partners with BC Transit to run the local public bus service, investigate options for such a bus service.
Last month, the Vancouver Island Sikh Cultural Society also sent a letter to the CVRD asking that a bus service to the ferry terminals be considered.
At North Cowichan’s council meeting, Coun. Tek Manhas said that when past members of the municipality’s council met with the local Sikh community in the last few years, the need for a bus service to the ferries was one of the main points that was made, especially for seniors.
Manhas said the Valley has a lot of public buses, but many don’t seem to be well utilized.
“Some just have a handful of passengers on them,” he said.
“I think it would be just a matter of reallocating some funds from the transit budget to try a pilot project of having a bus to the ferry terminals run once or twice a week to see how feasible it would be, and what kind of traffic there would be without any additions to the transit budget,” he said.
Coun. Rob Douglas, who, along with Manhas, initiated the notice of motion that led to the letter being sent to the CVRD, said seniors and many others in the community would benefit from such a bus service.
Mayor Al Siebring, who is one of the council members that represents North Cowichan on the CVRD’s board, said that Manhas’s suggestion that some of the buses are currently not well utilized is not entirely correct.
“It’s not as it appears as buses can be full at times and not full at others,” he said.
But Siebring said he has had discussions with Aaron Stone, chairman of the CVRD, on the issue and that the district is currently working on plans for transit to the ferry terminals.
“The CVRD’s board has introduced a couple of resolutions urging cooperation and integration into Nanaimo’s transit system to connect to the ferries,” he said.
“But don’t expect designated bus routes from the Valley directly to the ferry terminals. What is being looked at is for buses from the Valley to make connections with Nanaimo buses to get there.”
Siebring also cautioned that even if the decision was made to connect with Nanaimo’s transit to get to the ferries, it would still take 18 months to two years to get the buses.