Madeline Keller-MacLeod says she’s lucky to ride the No. 26 and 27 bus routes to Camosun and the University of Victoria on weekdays.
They’re not what the external affairs executive at the Camosun College Student Society calls the most “ridiculous routes,” and so, unlike some of her peers, she always gets on the bus.
But she’s still bracing for the tight ride students have come to expect each September when classes resume – a seasonal problem B.C. Transit is hoping to dramatically reduce following a revamp of service to UVic and Camosun.
When service levels were reviewed, trips with low ridership were reduced and the service was re-allocated to the busiest routes. The majority of new trips are now added in the morning peak period to UVic. As well, 5,000 service hours on UVic and/or Camosun-bound routes that came into effect last spring and will continue through the fall.
“That might help us a bit in terms of pass ups, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be enough,” Keller-MacLeod said. “In September we see people trying to get on the buses, then after a few weeks of missing classes, or being late for classes, they do try to do something different, and often it’s driving, unfortunately.”
Between Sept. 1, 2011 and Jan. 31, 2012, transit drivers reported a total of 29,296 pass ups, with the vast majority of that number (20,448) on routes servicing Camosun College and UVic.
“Our efforts cannot eliminate pass ups entirely, but they will go a long way to address the high demand for transit service during the peak fall season,” said B.C. Transit president and CEO Manuel Achadinha in a prepared statement. “We ask our customers to be patient as our operations team makes the best possible use of our resources.”
The Victoria Regional Transit Commission (VRTC) has also requested B.C. Transit order two additional buses for 2013-14 and will be presented with the associated service hour options as part of a service review and three year budget process this fall.
Keller-MacLeod and Lucia Orser, chairperson of the UVic Students’ Society, applauded the restoration of the hours earmarked for routes No. 4, 14, 16, 21 and 26 when the latest transit budget was released in April, but their goals reach beyond service hours.
Last week the student representatives began a media campaign urging Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom to abolish the VRTC and turn authority for transit planning over to the Capital Regional District.
While their focused efforts to rally support for changes to transit governance are relatively new, it’s all a part of the student groups’ long-standing mandate to ramp up student political engagement. Their efforts will be measured next spring during the provincial election.
“We want students to know that there’s an election happening,” Orser said, “to go out and find out what party has the best platform on post secondary education and go out and vote.”
En route to UVic
Average passengers per week day, fall 2011 (September to December)
Dockyard/UVic (No. 26): 4,627
UVic Downtown via Hillside (No. 4): 6,465
Tillicum Mall/UVic (No. 11): 6,519
Vic General/UVic via Richmond (No.14): 8,993
Royal Oak Exchange/Esquimalt (No. 6): 10,969