JOEL TANSEY: Taking a closer look at West Shore transportation issues

Gazette reporter speaks to West Shore commuters, politicians to see what can be done to fixtransportation woes

Transportation is something that’s has long been a hot-button issue for West Shore residents.

From the 9 to 5 office worker in Victoria’s downtown to the UVic student and just about everyone in between, residents crave an efficient network of roads, buses and bike paths – and possible other modes of transportation – on which to get from point A to point B.

When I decided to move to the region last summer, the Colwood Crawl was one of the first things I learned about my soon-to-be-home. Having grown up in Montreal and later Toronto – and later two years in South Korea – I just assumed that folks in “small-town” Victoria didn’t know what a real traffic jam looked like.

I was wrong. While the Crawl might pale in comparison to traffic jams in Toronto – ever try to drive out of T.O. on a Friday afternoon? – it’s still a legitimate concern that’s forcing commuters to spend an unreasonable amount of time stuck in gridlock.

Public transportation has been a somewhat peculiar passion of mine ever since I moved to Seoul. If you’re so inclined, Google “Seoul Subway map,” I promise you’ll be in awe.

I’m certainly not saying a city with a metro population of 25 million should be used as an example here, but having seen what a world-class system looks like it got me wondering what problems exist that are causing these transportation woes.

With that, I set out to find out what challenges are facing West Shore commuters, what could alleviate those challenges and what our elected officials envision for the future. The Crawl might be an annoyance now, but with the West Shore – Langford and Colwood in particular – slated to see continued fast growth, it’s likely to get worse if steps aren’t taken soon to make transportation quicker and more convenient.

Our upcoming series, West Shore: On the Go, will be broken into three parts and feature interviews with West Shore commuters, BC Transit staff and elected officials.

All of our contacts seemed to recognize that the current network needs improvements if it’s going to meet the demand from one of the province’s fastest-growing regions.