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Group looks for improved Vancouver Island bus service with cheaper fares

Better Island Transit targets trips between Duncan and Victoria as it lobbies for more service
A new group is advocating for more frequent and affordable bus services between Duncan and Victoria. (Citizen file photo)

A newly established group is advocating for more frequent and affordable bus services throughout Vancouver Island, and its first goal is to increase bus service between Victoria and Duncan.

Todd Litman, head of Better Island Transit, spoke to the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s board at its meeting on May 22.

He said that, currently, there is only one public bus service between the two cities, Route #66, which has four trips a day with $10 one-way fares, and they’re all oriented towards people travelling from Duncan to Victoria.


“There are good reasons to do better because there is a significant demand for increased bus service and low fares,” Litman said.

“In a typical community, 20 to 40 per cent of travellers cannot, should not, or prefer not to drive for most trips. Without suitable travel options they lack independent mobility, require chauffeuring, bear excessive costs, or have to move to other communities that offer better mobility options.”

Litman said that, at the same time, Route 61 between Sooke and Victoria, which is approximately the same distance as between Duncan and Victoria, has 43 bus trips a day, and the fare is only $2.50 one way.

He said that, unsurprisingly, that bus route carries 22 per cent of peak period travel between the two communities, and 13 per cent of the total travel demand.

“This is happening because both Victoria and Sooke are in the same regional district while Victoria and Duncan are not, and the province doesn’t have a very good process for planning inter-regional bus services that connect regions,” Litman said.

“Questions have been raised about ways to reduce traffic congestion and problems on the Malahat, and the most cost-effective solution that provides the greatest range of benefits, including providing mobility for non-drivers and reducing traffic accidents, is to provide frequent and affordable bus service.”


Litman said Better Island Transit is proposing that at least an hourly and affordable bus service be established between Victoria and Duncan, as well as a more integrated system between Route #66 and Route #70, which runs between Duncan and Nanaimo.

“This would provide convenient connections between central and southern Vancouver Island, from early morning to late at night, and we suggest $10 maximum fares between Nanaimo and Victoria,” he said.

“We would like to see this implemented by 2025.”

CVRD chair Aaron Stone said Litman was “preaching to the choir” by advocating for better bus service to the board, as it had been asking BC Transit for the same thing for years.

He said the CVRD has always struggled to get the support from BC Transit and the province to achieve that objective.

“I think we all recognize that using local property taxes aren’t the best way to fund transit,” Stone said.

“I want to say that I’m a big fan [of what you’re trying to do]. I would suggest you visit other local councils as well to keep reaffirming that because it’s about helping us reach our audience, which is our community. We’ll help you in any way we can.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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