Greater Victoria’s busiest transit routes to go under the microscope

Studies aim to identify changes to curb bus travel delays

Five major corridors in the Capital Region will soon be studied to identify measures that could reduce travel delays, to better serve existing B.C. Transit passengers and attract new riders.

Sections of Douglas Street, McKenzie Avenue, the Trans-Canada Highway, Island Highway and Pat Bay Highway in Victoria, Saanich, View Royal and Colwood will be examined over the next 10 months at a cost of $250,000.

With 17,000 to 23,000 people per day riding the bus on Douglas Street, from Belleville Street to Hillside Avenue, “improving that corridor has the biggest bang for riders,” Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said during Tuesday’s Victoria Regional Transit Commission meeting.

By comparison, Douglas Street from Hillside to Saanich Road, sees 6,000 and 10,000 transit riders each day.

The studies will lead to the development of time-saving solutions, from simple transit scheduling adjustments to roadway changes that would require construction. Examples range from implementing advance turn signals and delaying green light traffic signals for buses to side-street parking bans and constructing bus-only lanes and extended bus stops.

“There’s a way … to deal with the amount of traffic that is existing on these corridors, to move (passengers) more efficiently and, in effect, have much more capacity because of it,” said commission chair and Saanich Coun. Susan Brice.

Improved service would boost ridership and fare revenues, she said, adding it is also important to build ridership in advance of the proposed light-rail rapid transit system.

The challenge along the Trans-Canada Highway is that “we (currently run) more buses than we need to just stay on schedule, because we’re caught in that congestion,” said Fortin, who also touted the potential of the studies to iron out inefficiencies.

At the meeting, the commission approved the routes that were selected for the studies based on passenger and traffic volume and service levels. Commissioners also agreed to contribute $170,750 to fund the studies. B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will cover the remainder.

To help offset the cost of implementing the recommended changes that come out of the studies, municipalities could apply for gas tax funding, Brice suggested.

Douglas Street and a section of the Trans-Canada Highway will be studied first, from June to October. Island Highway, McKenzie Avenue and Pat Bay Highway will be the focus from October to March 2013.

Top five priority corridors:

1. Trans-Canada Highway, between Uptown and the Colwood exit

(ridership 1,000 to 6,000 per day; 100 to 135 buses per day)

2. Douglas Street; from Belleville Street to Hillside Avenue (ridership 17,000 to 23,000; 500 to 900 buses a day) and from Hillside Avenue to Saanich Road (ridership 6,000 to 10,000; 135 to 200 buses a day)

3. Island Highway, from the Colwood exit off the Trans-Canada Highway to Goldstream Avenue (ridership 4,000 to 6,000 daily passengers; 135 to 200 buses)

4. McKenzie Avenue, from the Pat Bay Highway to Borden Street (ridership 4,000 to 6,000 daily passengers; 100 to 135 buses)

5. Pat Bay Highway, between Saanich Road and Ravine Way, and from Haliburton Road to Sayward Road (ridership 2,000 to 6,000 daily passengers; 135-200 buses a day)

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