Alberni bus revamp includes stop eliminations

A revamped bus ssytem in Alberni will include shorter ride times and a central bus exchange, but will also include eliminating some stops.

A new bus system with more frequent pickups and a central bus exchange is on the way in Port Alberni.

The revamp is part of a service review that B.C. Transit undertook starting in June 2011.

The revamp will see a pulse system instituted. The crux of the new system will be a central transit exchange at 12th Avenue and Redford Street, by McDonalds where buses will lay over so riders can transfer to head either north or south.

The new schedule would be comprised of three routes that will operate Monday to Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and evenings and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to a transit report, the new routes will take 45 minutes to cycle instead of 60 minutes.

Bus ridership in the Alberni Valley is healthy and ranks sixth out of 81 transit systems in B.C., said James Wadsworth, B.C. Transit senior planner.

The new routes will be streamlined by eliminating low use stops such as the top of Anderson Avenue, the Alberni Mall parking lot, and Johnston Road between Helen Street and Tebo Avenue.

The stop at the Chances Rim Rock Gaming Centre is slated for monitoring because of low usage. And the stop in front of Alberni District Secondary School on Burde will be eliminated after the high school moves to Roger Street, the report notes.

There will be slightly less usage after 6:30 p.m., and less frequent runs (every 70 minutes) on Sundays. But fewer people ride the bus anyway during that time, the report notes.

Operating costs will remain neutral and there will be no fare increase.

But there will be a $30,000 capital cost to establish the exchange and shelters, which the city and transit can cost share.

Bus service connecting Walmart to the Tseshaht Market was also identified in the report. The route would also include stops at Mission, Thomas, Gallic and Ekooth Roads, as well as Somass Crescent.

The Tsesaht expansion required further study, as well as cost sharing discussions with the city, Tseshaht and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com