There’s this outrageous story going around that you can’t get from Nanaimo to Ladysmith using public transit.
What a crock.
Hop the Nanaimo transit system to the Departure Bay ferry terminal, walk on the ferry to Horseshoe Bay and grab an express bus to downtown Vancouver. Wander over to the Skytrain station and take the train to the Vancouver Airport, switch to the regional bus system again to take you to the Tsawwassen ferry over to Swartz Bay. Grab a bus from there to downtown Victoria, transfer to another to Mill Bay to Duncan and to Chemainus and the next stop is Ladysmith.
It might take you a little longer than walking the 22 kilometres between the two mid-Island towns, but no one expects public transit to be perfect, right?
It’s time for public transit on Vancouver Island to start thinking of itself as a single system designed to properly connect our interconnected population centres to each other and to the Mainland, for work, for education, for recreation and entertainment, and for commerce.
Take for example access to ferries.
The Cowichan Valley bus system doesn’t reach to the Departure Bay or Duke Point ferry terminals, nor, at this point, does it connect to Nanaimo. A very long and involved bus ride will get you from Duncan to Victoria, then to Swartz Bay — not particularly conveniently, but in a pinch, you will get there.
It is difficult enough for many people to afford the ferry fares if they need to get over to the Mainland, but add in a costly private ride to the ferry terminal and it’s too much for some.
Consider how many people might take a direct express from Duncan to the ferry terminal? Even those with cars might then choose to leave them at home and walk on.
These kinds of missing connections demonstrate the overall weakness of the public transit system on Vancouver Island. We are, despite some good efforts from local governments, still very much a car-dependent community. This is tough for those who are on limited budgets.
A personal vehicle is a big-ticket item, insurance is skyrocketing and the pressure to reduce our carbon footprint is immense.
Anyone who went shopping during or just after the big January snowstorm knows just how independent we are not when it comes to even basic goods such as groceries. The quickly emptying shelves demonstrated exactly why we’re told we should have a stocked emergency kit with plenty of food and water in case of a disaster such as a large earthquake.
We need real investment in things like the Island Corridor (train), a new, bigger and faster Mill Bay ferry, and yes, buses that run more frequently, not only within our town boundaries, but between them.
We are making strides to slowly build up our public transportation infrastructure, and a run to the ferry terminals would be a good next step.