Public transit from the Cowichan Valley to the Island’s ferry terminals is an idea whose time has come.
In fact, it’s something we think is long overdue.
It is difficult enough for many people to afford the ferry fares if they need to get over to the Mainland, but add in a costly private ride to the ferry terminal and it’s too much for some.
Our local Cowichan Valley bus system doesn’t reach to the Departure Bay or Duke Point ferry terminals, nor, at this point, does it connect to Nanaimo. A very long and involved bus ride will get you from Duncan to Victoria, then to Swartz Bay — not particularly conveniently, but in a pinch, you will get there.
Consider how many people might take a direct express from Duncan to the ferry terminal? Even those with cars might then choose to leave them at home and walk on.
These kinds of missing connections demonstrate the overall weakness of the public transit system on Vancouver Island. We are, despite some good efforts from local governments, still very much a car-dependent community. This is tough for those who are on limited budgets. A personal vehicle is a big-ticket item.
Fortunately, we don’t also say people have to have their own boats to travel off the Island. Fortunately, our ferry system is there, imperfect as it may be. Anyone who went shopping during or just after the big January snowstorm knows just how independent we are not when it comes to even basic goods such as groceries. The quickly emptying shelves demonstrated exactly why we’re told we should have a stocked emergency kit with plenty of food and water in case of a disaster such as a large earthquake.
We need real investment in things like the Island Corridor (train), a new, bigger and faster Mill Bay ferry, and yes, buses that run more frequently. We are making strides to slowly build up our public transportation infrastructure, and a run to the ferry terminals would be a good next step.