Capital City Station proving a perfect place to connect people with buses

The Crystal Garden bus depot, known as the Capital City Station, continues to run well despite initial fears that it would lead to crowding and other problems.

Buses pick up passengers from the front of the Crystal Garden building.

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The depot opened July 1, 2016 with an 1,800-square-foot space that includes a waiting area and ticket services.

“It’s very much a success and the community hasn’t been impacted at all, nor has traffic flow,” said John Wilson, president and CEO of the Wilson Group of Companies, which operates the depot. “It’s been a nice utilization of an otherwise underutilized building.”

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The new depot arrangement was approved by Victoria council after the former depot across the street was earmarked for residential development. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said there was significant concern from the community when the depot was announced.

“Now I think it’s running seamlessly,” she said. “I think it’s a great addition to that part of town. There’s Capital City Station and the B.C. Ferries Connector and the Capital City Cafe, so they’ve really kind of filled all of those units along the Douglas Street frontage of the Crystal Garden.

Wilson said some people thought it just wouldn’t work.

“They thought it was going to be packed with people, the sidewalks were going to be jammed up with people and it was going to be untenable for the locals to get by,” Wilson said. “And it was going to be loud and noisy.

“Really the buses pull up, they turn off their engines, load up people, fire up and go.”

The way the Victoria depot operates is a sign of the times, Wilson said. “Curbside pickup is kind of where things are going, not brick-and-mortar and large lots full of buses,” he said.

“It’s not like an airport, so you don’t need large areas holding people.”

Bus terminals still have a function in larger centres such as Vancouver, Wilson said, but smaller cities such as Victoria do just fine with a different approach.

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