Ladysmith has agreed to join B.C. Transit, but it could be a few years before a Nanaimo rider can take a bus to Ladysmith, or Victoria.
The town of Ladysmith made the announcement Monday it will link up with the Cowichan Valley Regional Transit system, in September.
Ladysmith is the largest B.C. town without a municipal transit service. It has operated a rubber-tired trolley service on its own since August 2009.
Once running, buses would provide service to Chemainus, where riders could transfer to get to Duncan. The service is welcome, though some say it doesn't go far enough.
It will not connect Ladysmith to Nanaimo. Nor would Nanaimo gain bus service to any communities south of Cedar. Some look forward to a time transit will link Bowser with Victoria, but that remains a distant goal.
The transit agreement will allow 3,000 existing hours of trolley service annually to continue in Ladysmith, plus another 1,100 hours of service to Chemainus.
That means four buses a day. "What it does is give a linkage south," said Coun. Steve Arnett. "But the biggest thing for people is 'Can we have a linkage north to Nanaimo?' Young people are looking to go to university. Where is the concentration of jobs and shopping? Nanaimo. Where do you go off the Island by plane? Nanaimo. Most particularly for young people."
The agreement will cost about $240,000 a year, shared with B.C. Transit. Connecting to Nanaimo would be too costly to take on right away.
"One of the things that I think our good friends in Nanaimo (Regional Transit) will tell you is when you're linking multiple communities, it's one of the most expensive parts of transit," said B.C. Transit CEO Manuel Achadinha.
While bus service that connects Bowser to Victoria is in the long-term transit plan, "I can tell you it won't happen this year," Achadinha said.
Now, with the B.C. Transit agreement in place, Arnett expects Nanaimo bus service within five years.
"It was 10 years previously, until we voted to join B.C. Transit only a few months ago," Arnett said.
© Copyright 2013