End of Blue Boat drives innovation

Cancellation of the Blue Boat service in some ways could be a good thing.

Although many commuting military members might disagree, cancellation of the Blue Boat service in some ways could be a good thing.

An ambitious entrepreneur in Colwood is organizing the “Blue Bus” shuttle service from near the Military Family Resource Centre building in Colwood to CFB Esquimalt.

Although not as picturesque or efficient as motoring across the harbour in a boat (and not free), services such as this are what is needed in the face of defence spending cutbacks and few foreseeable solutions to easing traffic on Island Highway or the Trans-Canada Highway.

Although the Department of National Defence isn’t involved, the Blue Bus service wouldn’t be able to roll without ready-made parking on DND property behind the resource centre.

The daily cost to military commuters is less than a B.C. Transit fare, so it will be interesting to see the uptake of the service, or if military commuters will opt for cars once the boat is out of the picture at the end of this month.

At least the effort will kick the door open for the private sector to take a shot at moving people between the West Shore and Victoria.

Thankfully, CFB Esquimalt is also open to private boat operators shuttling personnel between the Colwood and Esquimalt sides of the base, which could be a precursor to an eventual civilian boat shuttle between the Royal Bay area and Victoria. (Update: Victoria Harbour Ferries announced Wednesday they close to sealing a deal with CFB Esquimalt on providing ferry service.)

In the meantime, most commuters will have to be content sticking with driving or taking B.C. Transit — after last week’s federal budget remained mute on matching $7.5 million  promised by the province, fixing up the E&N rail line remains as elusive as ever.

As a consolation prize for harried commuters, Saanich and View Royal announced the closure and construction of a new Craigflower bridge is deferred until January or July 2013.

Good money is probably on a summer closure, giving engineers more than a full year to figure out how to get kids and nearby residents over the Gorge Waterway during construction.




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