Transit looks to revamp Alberni system

Streamlined bus routes, a transit exchange where buses meet in the middle of town, and expanded service to the Tseshaht First Nation reserve could be coming to the Alberni Valley.

Local bus driver Mack McDonald

Streamlined bus routes, a transit exchange where buses meet in the middle of town, and expanded service to the Tseshaht First Nation reserve could be coming to the Alberni Valley.

The recommendations were part of a review of Port Alberni’s transit revealed by BC Transit on Monday at Port Alberni city council.

Councillors were supportive of the initiative, however Coun. Cindy Solda stressed the need for in-person consultation as opposed to online.

“A lot of bus riders don’t have computers,” she said.

According to transit official Myrna Moore, Port Alberni ranks sixth out of 80 systems in the province in ridership per hour, a number that is indicative of healthy transit use.

That is only two spots behind Victoria’s bus system, Moore said.

Passenger counts in Port Alberni were done by transit and local bus company officials between February and March, and two scenarios were developed that involve either minor changes to the system or redesigning it.

The current three systems is confusing to riders and would be more efficient if reduced to two – a Monday to Saturday one and a weekend and evening one, Moore said.

Several minor changes were proposed.

The little-used stop at the Alberni Mall would be discontinued, and a public stop be installed on the public road near Chances RimRock. Buses would still service the Walmart area despite the route change.

The Ian Avenue route would have stops discontinued at its southern end, and that it be re-routed from Bruce Street to Third Avenue.

On the Gertrude route, the run between the hospital and Maebelle Road would be discontinued and buses would leave the hospital and head back downtown instead.

Bus drivers find it difficult to manoeuvre around Harbour Quay, so they would instead turn left off Argyle Street onto Kingsway Avenue (at Carmoor Cookery), then to Mar Street, then right onto Third Avenue.

Bruce Street would be eliminated from the River Road route, and would instead be served by the Ian Avenue bus.

A system redesign was also outlined in the report.

Bus service would continue to operate Monday to Sunday.

The revamp would see the Pacific Rim and Beaver Creek routes eliminated and replaced with a revised night route.

A bus exchange would be established at a central point where buses would meet and riders could transfer from one bus to another.

Tentative locations for the exchange are either Redford Street between 10th and 12th Avenues, or Ninth Avenue between Redford and Bute Streets, near Safeway and the liquor store.

Proposals to expand bus service include extending the River Road route to the Tseshaht Market.

Doing so would have to involve the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District with the cost depending on how much time the bus spends in the ACRD.

Revamping the system would be cost-neutral, save for building the exchange, the report noted.

The next step for the transit review will be a public consultation.

Transit is aiming for the process to begin in late September or early October after kids are in school and families finished their holidays.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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