EDITORIAL: Transit priority the best option for West Shore

Creating a transit/car pool-only highway lane would go a long way toward easing crawl

Taking transit is a staple for students around the region. But for many West Shore residents who work downtown or anywhere south or east of the Admirals/McKenzie road intersection with Highway 1, busing it doesn’t provide enough time or cost advantages.

That said, we applaud the City of Victoria for completing bus/cycles priority lanes on Douglas Street from downtown to Tolmie Avenue. The lanes are active southbound from 6 to 9 a.m. and northbound 3 to 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

Great idea, but most transportation planners would agree it’s only a start. During the weekday commutes, Douglas Street north of Tolmie, through to Highway 1, is fed largely by West Shore-based vehicles.

The 2013 Victoria Transit Priority Corridor Plan stated as much. It noted that during peak morning hours, the percentage of the people travelling south on Douglas on buses still favoured vehicles over buses, as far in as Johnson Street. The report also stated that only about 25 per cent of people using the Island Highway corridor ride transit in peak hours.

So what is the next step in addressing the West Shore commute? Since light rapid transit still appears to be light years away, and many drivers would likely take transit if it got them to work or home faster than if they sat in the Crawl, focusing on transit-priority traffic management appears to be the best option.

The Corridor Plan acknowledged bus-only lanes as the most effective way to move more people, more quickly. However, such lanes are most difficult to implement, and certainly the most expensive.

Unfortunately, there’s little political appetite around our fractured region to spend the kind of money this would require, despite a virtual guarantee that it would improve traffic flow. Adding car pool priority to those lanes would further increase their effectiveness and remove more vehicles from the commutes.

Our hope is that the McKenzie interchange project includes transit improvements for the West Shore. Let’s not settle for downtown to Tolmie Avenue, but keep pushing bus priority lanes outward, where they’re needed the most.