Vital Signs report: Residents call for more affordable transit

Greater Victoria needs a co-ordinated regional transit system that is more affordable, with more buses, according to the 2017 Vital Signs report released Tuesday.

Transportation was give a C+ grade from respondents to a survey in the report, which includes all transportation modes and infrastructure. Cycling, walkability and bus service were celebrated but respondents said they wanted more.

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According to B.C. Transit statistics included in the report, 59 per cent of Greater Victorians used local transit this year — up five per cent from last year. But only five to 12 per cent of those said they were medium to heavy riders.

James Wadsworth, a planning manager with B.C. Transit, said ridership is steadily increasing at about one per cent a year and the organization is continually tweaking service to meet demand.

“We’re good at getting people to and from downtown but need more investment in the outer routes,” he said, adding two new routes have been added in the Westshore as well as eight more buses. The fleet has room for four more but then, Wadsworth said, they will need a third location for storage and maintenance.

Each year, B.C. Transit takes a mobile feedback centre to a different neighbourhood to get suggestions from users about improvements to service.

A recent transit session in James Bay led to an expanded bus route to Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Christy Ridout, director of corporate and strategic planning, said one of the most exciting new services on the horizon is the introduction of real-time technology on city buses in 2018. The $11.8-million province-wide project will outfit buses with video and GPS tracking so riders can follow bus arrival and departure times online and at select stops.

“This will significantly increase convenience for riders . . . and improve choices,” said Ridout.

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