B.C. Transit offers a peek at rapid transit plans for CRD
By BILL CLEVERLEY, Timescolonist.com October 1, 2010
B.C. Transit officials are ready to test drive the latest version of their rapid transit plan between Victoria and the West Shore.
And while they don’t know what kind of vehicles they’ll be using or exactly what route they will take, they are narrowing the options and want public input on tweaking things further. Friday, B.C. Transit offered a peek at some of the new transit plans, on the same day that B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell told municipal politicians he was committed to pushing ahead with new transit initiatives.
“We need to get the rapid bus launched in the capital regional district, and we’re going to significantly expand public transit options in other regional centres like … Nanaimo and Courtenay-Comox,” Campbell said in his speech at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Whistler. Rapid transit means construction of a dedicated right of way so that either light rail trains or rubber-wheeled vehicles can fly past traffic.
Projections show that in 30 years it will take almost twice as long — up to an hour and 15 minutes compared to an average 40 minutes now — for a person to travel between Langford and Victoria. The trip by conventional bus would take an hour and 35 minutes. If rapid transit lines are built, the same trip would be just 45 minutes, said Erinn Pinkerton, B.C. Transit’s director of corporate and strategic planning.
“If we can build an exclusive right of way, on Day 1 we will be just as competitive as the car in terms of the transit time to get to the West Shore,” she said.
The route from Langford to Hillside Avenue has been set. It will run along the E&N Rail line near Westhills in Langford; on to Station Avenue; onto Goldstream Avenue to the Colwood city centre. From there, it travels down the Island Highway to a new Six Mile exchange; and then would run along the Trans-Canada highway (between the highway and the Galloping Goose Trail) to a new exchange at the Uptown Shopping Centre. The alignment then follows Douglas to Hillside. There are still a number of options on the table for the route south of Hillside.
Options include going straight down Douglas or using a Douglas/Blanshard combination following Douglas to Queens Avenue, crossing over to Blanshard to the southern terminus and then returning up Douglas; or a Douglas/Government Street route that would follow Douglas to Hillside Avenue then down Government Street to the southern terminus and return on Douglas. There are also options for the location of the southern terminus including Humboldt Street; Beacon Hill or in James Bay.
Also still to be decided is layout for the busway itself. There are three options: • A curbside arrangement in which rapid transit runs along each outside curb; • a median option where the bus lanes are in the centre of the road; • A side-running transit way in which transit vehicles would run on both directions on one side of the road. Two open houses are planned for next week on the plans. B.C. Transit will have one of the possible rapid transit vehicles — a rubber-tired articulated streetcar on hand, as well as light-rail information panels from Bombardier.
By late fall, officials hope to have the final alignment set, a recommendation on light rail or rubber-wheeled vehicles, estimated costs and funding proposals.
The open houses are slated for Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Ambrosia Conference Centre, 638 Fisgard St. and Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Langford Legion, 761 Station Ave.