Public transit officials say the connector bus between Nanaimo and Duncan is showing increased ridership.
At the RDN transit select committee meeting Thursday, Dec. 14, Seth Wright, B.C. Transit government relations manager, presented a report with route information collected in late summer and early fall. Route 70 Nanaimo-Cowichan Express saw average daily boardings of 89 on weekdays and 84 on Saturday. The route was introduced in late March and Wright previously told the committee there were 50 rides per day initially.
March isn’t normally a time a new route is introduced, Wright told the News Bulletin, and it has done “exceptionally well for being introduced at an awkward time of year.”
“We usually consider that it takes two years for a route to really develop consistent ridership and five years for it to really maintain and achieve its full success,” he said. “At this point, and then comparing it to similar regional routes across the province, the route is performing very well and better than expected according to those standards.”
Similarly, the Route 78 Cassidy-Airport bus, which runs on weekdays and began service in 2020, saw 23 average daily boardings.
“I think we’re happy with where that route is performing,” said Wright. “Airport routes tend to be low performers and just the nature of people’s travel to the airport, while it’s obviously a very useful service, people don’t travel to the airport every day like they travel to work every day.”
The route with the most daily boardings during the time frame was the Route 40 Vancouver Island University Express with 3,500 people on weekdays. The VIU bus also saw significant use on weekends, with 2,000 boardings on average on Saturdays and 1,500 on Sundays.
Ridership was hampered due to COVID-19, but regional transit seems to be rebounding, Wright said.
“Just in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen our first multiple weeks in a row of ridership that’s been higher than COVID [times], so that’s a real milestone in the ridership return that we’re just seeing now and we expect that will continue,” he said. “It’s been fairly consistent steady growth of ridership.”