A passenger prepares to board the Langtoria Greenline bus on Goldstream Avenue in the pre-dawn morning. Ridership has been low so far

Langtoria riders few in numbers, big in smiles

Operators not concerned about low ridership in Langford-to-Victoria bus service’s first weeks

They number just a handful of customers for now, but those who are taking advantage of the new Langtoria Greenline are giving the service a glowing review.

“I’m so excited about not having to drive a car (into Victoria). (To) just be able to get on a bus, sit, relax and go to work,” said Cheryl Hewlett. “It’s been great … I can’t imagine going back to a car.”

Melissa Thimot used to take BC Transit and says she’s enjoying having a guaranteed seat and her own space on the Langtoria bus.

“This is a very relaxing bus ride,” she said.

While Robert Quill didn’t sign up for the bus until the middle of last week – its first full week of service – he said he’s already enjoying it in comparison to his previous commute on BC Transit.

“I think it’s professional, I think it’s going to get me to and from town quicker … I (don’t) have to smell other people’s marijuana or beer or the stuff that you smell on public transit,” he said.

Because of the nature of the service, a couple of riders expressed that the bus has a community feel to it and they’ve begun to form relationships with the other passengers on the route.

The line is a partnership between Wilson’s Transportation and the City of Langford and left the West Shore on Oct. 17 with three passengers on its maiden trip downtown.

The coach bus, which can take 51 passengers, had eight people signed up for a monthly pass as of Tuesday of this week.

Despite low ridership, operators aren’t concerned.

“The intention of this was not to over-plan it and have the bus show up four months from now. It was to get the bus on the road,” said project manager Jeff Warwick.

Tweaks to the schedule have already been made, he added, after operators realized that most of their users preferred to leave Victoria earlier on the return trip.

The bus now departs for the West Shore shortly after 4:30 p.m.

“We want to hear what people have to say about how they want to commute, because everyone’s a little bit different. We want to make as many people happy as we can,” Warwick said.

The company is prepared to be patient with regard to the line’s ridership, he added, noting that many people may have their monthly BC Transit passes or parking passes already paid for in October and might be more inclined to sign up for the service at the beginning of November.

“We’re expecting it to grow over time. We gave it a three-month window to see if we can fill a bus,” he said.

Warwick also said that the company plans to increase its promotion of the service in the coming weeks.

Langford Mayor Stew Young would have liked to have seen more riders in the service’s first week, but isn’t concerned about the line going forward.

“I’m optimistic about it … we know the job of getting people out of cars is really difficult … you can’t judge anything in the first week,” he said.

Young also believes West Shore commuters might rethink their morning routines once construction on the McKenzie interchange begins to ramp up.

“Once you start to see the construction, I think you’ll see a change and if not, then I guess people are going to stay in their cars and we don’t have to do it,” he said.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

 

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