Proposed rapid-transit route unveiled

Running buses down dedicated lanes in the centre of Douglas Street is no longer the preferred option for rapid transit in Greater Victoria.

"Going on the side appears to have some advantages over going down the centre," said B.C. Transit president and CEO Manuel Achadinha, adding one problem with the centre line is that stations were too small. "If you have to put the proper-sized stations in there, you don't have enough space on Douglas."

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The centre busway, a two-lane, bus-only stretch along Douglas from Fisgard Street to Carey Road, was part of a $25-million plan that was shelved more than a year ago after it angered business owners along the corridor, who were worried it would kill their businesses. After collecting data, consultation and evaluating options, transit officials are looking for public feedback on the route for their $800,000 Rapid Transit Action Plan. The preferred corridor from Station Avenue Exchange in Langford to downtown Victoria follows, in part, the E&N Rail right of way, Goldstream Avenue and the Island Highway. From the new Uptown Shopping Centre to downtown there are two options -- along Douglas Street or via both Douglas and Government streets.

Options for rapid transit include everything from a rapid bus line to a modern streetcar or light rail.

Officials say regardless of the technology, they need an exclusive right-of-way.

"You're trying to ensure reliability, frequency in transit service," said Erin Pinkerton, project manager for the rapid transit project. "You can't put buses or rail or whatever it is that is stuck in traffic with other traffic. How would you ensure a schedule?"

Open houses on the options are planned for Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Colwood municipal hall and Oct. 20 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Victoria City Hall.

bcleverley@tc.canwest.com

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