Royal Roads University students studying on campus full time will be required to buy a BC Transit universal bus pass beginning next September.
But not many buses roll onto university property, or even past it’s Sooke Road entrance. The No. 39 stops on campus 14 times per day on weekdays and the nearest bus exchange is a 20 minute walk from the school gates.
“It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg situation,” said co-ordinator of student services Dranna Andrews-Brown, explaining that BC Transit won’t improve service until ridership increases. “Hopefully with more riders, more buses will follow.”
In the spring the RRU students’ society held a referendum vote asking eligible students if they wanted to buy into the universal bus pass (U-pass) program, and 83 per cent supported it. Both Camosun college and University of Victoria have offered U-passes for at least a decade.
“This is fabulous, it brings us in line with other institutions,” said RRU sustainability director Nancy Wilkins.
About 200 Royal Roads students will pay $20 per month for the bus pass, a quarter the cost of a standard adult bus pass, for unlimited use of transit throughout Greater Victoria.
Currently only four per cent of student trips to the campus is on public transit, compared to 93 per cent by personal vehicle. Andrews-Brown is among the minority who buses to the school. From her home in Victoria, it’s a 45 minute ride.
“It’s not that bad,” she said, noting that while the No. 39 Royal Roads bus is infrequent, it runs on peak hours and can work well for a students on a regular time table if they plan their day around it.
Still, she understands why many choose to drive, especially when an annual campus parking pass is only $123.
“People who still want to drive to campus might use their bus pass for other trips throughout the region to get some benefit from it,” Andrews-Brown said. “Not everyone’s going to stop driving, but we can encourage less reliance on personal vehicles.”