Comment: New View Royal transit facility will help meet growing demand

A commentary by B.C.’s minister of transportation and infrastructure. 

The number of people in Greater Victoria choosing public transit to get to school and work is growing: It was 10 per cent higher this September compared to last.

People choosing transit means fewer cars on the road and a reduction in our carbon footprint. It’s more affordable, too.

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But this increase in ridership, coupled with population growth in the Western Communities, is making it increasingly difficult for B.C. Transit to support the more than 26 million transit trips provided across the region each year.

HandyDART also provides an essential service to people for whom conventional transit is not an option, with more than 390,000 annual trips. It’s good news that more buses are on the way, but we need somewhere to put them — and quickly.

That’s where the future handyDART facility in View Royal comes in.

This new facility, at Burnside Road and Watkiss Way, will allow B.C. Transit to convert the current handyDART depot into a larger operations and maintenance centre for the conventional fleet, so much-needed new buses can be brought in.

The addition of a View Royal handyDART facility will mean better service for everyone in the region who uses transit to get where they need to go.

This location is ideal. Situated in the centre of Greater Victoria, it will mean lower annual operational costs and an ability to easily provide handyDART service to all areas of the region.

Other sites were examined and considered, including in the West Shore and Central Saanich, but those locations would have cost millions more in capital costs.

The construction of the View Royal facility will be done to the highest environmental standards, and special emphasis will be placed on the protection of Craigflower Creek.

B.C. Transit is working with the Town of View Royal to determine additional improvements that will be undertaken to ensure that View Royal directly benefits from this project.

B.C. Transit will also engage with people in the community through a community working group as the project proceeds through the design and construction phases.

As a government, we are committed to provide the most reliable and accessible transit service possible for people in the region.

This is demonstrated through our continued investment in the transit system, from the bus lanes on the highway to the recent announcement of CNG (compressed natural gas) buses coming to Victoria next year and the promise of 10 electric buses in 2021.

I’m excited about the future and growth of public transit throughout Greater Victoria. Building a new handyDART facility in View Royal is an essential part of the puzzle that will ensure people in the region will have a reliable transit system for many years to come.

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