Dylan Sherlock says he’s lucky to live at the south end of the No. 4 bus route.
Just a few stops after he boards the morning bus headed to the University of Victoria, the bus reaches its capacity for riders leaving those who don’t share Sherlock’s good fortune waiting at the curb.
“A lot of days, just one bus will pass over 100 people,” said Sherlock, director of finance and operations for the UVic Students’ Society.
Between Sept. 1, 2011 and Jan. 31, 2012, transit drivers reported a total 29,296 pass ups, with the vast majority of that number (20,448) on routes servicing Camosun College and UVic. That’s all due to change April 1.
B.C. Transit’s recent budget includes the restoration of 7,000 service hours cut last year to save funds lost from declining ridership. Approximately 5,000 hours are slated for the No. 4, 14, 16, 21 and 26 routes leading to UVic and/or Camosun campuses.
“We’re ecstatic,” said Sherlock. “We really feel like there’s this forward momentum making the transit system better for riders.”
Service hours were cut at a time when students were already concerned about late-night service, he added.
“Issues moved beyond extending transit hours for students towards, ‘Oh my God I can’t even get on a bus to go to my class in the morning.’ It feels like once again we’re moving in the right direction.”
While the restored hours are a big step in the right direction, student societies say more needs to be done to resolve transit issues affecting students.
“We need to remember that this still just brings us up to the level of service hours before those hours were cut,” said Camosun College Student Society external executive Madeline Keller-MacLeod. “And there were problems at that time as well.”
The next step, Keller-MacLeod said, will include identifying key transit corridors and implementing bus priority and high occupancy vehicle lanes – a challenge she put forward to the mayors of Saanich, Esquimalt, Sidney, Colwood and Victoria during the last Victoria Regional Transit Commission meeting.
“You hook them while they’re young,” Sherlock said. “You get people on the bus while they’re going to university and it’ll become a part of their culture about how they approach transportation … On the flip side, if their experience is terrible, then students’ impressions of public transportation is going to be very different.”