B.C. Transit borrowing buses to avoid cancelling trips; ridership up 10%

B.C. Transit has borrowed seven buses from Abbotsford and Kelowna in an attempt to prevent trip cancellations on Greater Victoria routes.

The transit system was plagued with cancellations in September and October as mechanics struggled to keep Victoria’s aging fleet on the road. On Tuesday, 14 trips were cancelled in the late afternoon because no buses were available. The previous Tuesday, the bus service announced five trip cancellations.

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The two-year-old buses — four from Abbotsford and three from Kelowna — are helping to improve the reliability of bus service, Kevin Schubert, general manager of B.C. Transit’s Victoria operation, said Wednesday.

“We know on any given day, there’s the risk of trip cancellations. So it’s certainly helping our ability by having newer vehicles in the fleet. But on any given day, there could be some risk,” Schubert said.

B.C. Transit is still delivering more than 99 per cent of its scheduled services every day, which includes 3,200 trips on weekdays, said spokesman Jonathon Dyck.

“But if it’s your trip that’s cancelled, it’s the most significant thing in the world,” Schubert said. “So we aim for zero trip cancellations.”

B.C. Transit in Victoria is now operating with the number of buses it needs, he said. There are 302 buses in the fleet, based in Victoria and Langford.

Schubert acknowledged the gaps in service hurt B.C. Transit’s efforts to get people on buses. “Certainly, if you have a negative experience in anything you purchase, it’s going to impact your decision the next time, so we’re very cognizant of that,” he said.

He said B.C. Transit’s Victoria operation saw an almost 10 per cent increase in ridership in September, year-over-year. Ridership on the main route from the West Shore to downtown Victoria has jumped 44 per cent in five years.

Eighty new buses will be delivered in 2020, which will reduce the average fleet age from 12 years to six years. A significant percentage of the new buses will operate on compressed natural gas. Ten electric buses are scheduled to arrive in 2021.

The borrowed buses from Abbotsford and Kelowna will be returned when Victoria’s new buses arrive.


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