Regional District of Nanaimo is keen on the idea of establishing a northern transit service connection linking the Parksville-Qualicum Beach area and the Comox Valley.
The transit select committee, at its meeting Jan. 27, approved a staff recommendation to the RDN board to continue discussions with the Comox Valley Regional District and the Strathcona Regional District to explore transit connection between regions. And also to request B.C. Transit initiate service planning and related actions required to establish an inter-regional public transit.
The CVRD and the RDN identified inter-regional transit service as a medium- to long-term priority in the 2014 transit future plan.
The plan is to provide bus transit between the Comox Valley and Parksville-Qualicum, to reduce the use of private vehicles travelling between the two regions. The link also extends to Campbell River as the Strathcona Regional District and the CVRD already provides transit services at the Oyster River bus stop.
The approximate timeline to achieve this goal is to first identify service priority through the 2022 transit future action plan. This will be followed by a B.C. Transit-led planning and analysis in 2023 that would lead to formalized agreements and B.C. Transit Improvement Program be established in 2024 and implementation of the new service in 2025.
The RDN transit select committee also approved staff recommendation for the board to endorse the memorandum of understanding between the RDN, Cowichan Valley Regional District and B.C. Transit for the Nanaimo-Cowichan Express inter-regional transit service, commencing in March 2022.
The new NCX transit service will link Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley with seven stops that are still being finalized by both municipalities. They include downtown Nanaimo, South Parkway Plaza, Nanaimo Airport, Ladysmith, Cowichan Commons, Beverly Street at Canada Avenue (VIU Cowichan), downtown Duncan and Village Green Mall. The frequency of the service and scheduling are also being finalized. One option includes seven round trips Monday to Friday, six trips on Saturday and no trips on Sunday.
A connection between the NCX and the Cowichan Valley Commuter service on weekdays is proposed for an early morning trip to Victoria and a corresponding return trip, as are potential connections between the NCX and the Saturday Route 44 Victoria/Duncan.