Riders wait to board the 39 bus to the University of Victoria on Royal Oak Drive. The News spoke with the candidates running for Saanich council about how they would like to see the transit system change to better serve constituents.

AT ISSUE: LONG-TERM TRANSPORTATION

Planning for the future of transportation will involve a variety of upgrades, but how should transit change to be accessible to more people?

Planning for the future of transportation in Saanich will involve upgrades to sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure, but how should the transit system change to be accessible to more people?

 

David Cubberley, mayoral candidate:

“For a decade we haven’t had really major improvements or growth in day-to-day transit and we need to find a way to improve the service on our existing system. But we also need to implement a system of rapid transit beginning on the Douglas-Trans-Canada corridor. The first step is to establish express bus by building queue-jumper lanes. As for the larger picture, there are very few solutions that only involve Saanich. The improvements we need are system-wide. We need to be directly in control of our transit future much more than we are today. Having a transportation planning authority would allow us to look at the whole transportation system, all modes, and set up a list of priority projects. Once we have established a plan at a regional level, then we can approach the province with one unified voice. Today we have no voice.”

 

Frank Leonard, mayoral candidate:

“Governance and control of transit, which Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin and I proposed, should move to the region, the CRD. If we can achieve local control, the benefit will be that money is spent on what we want it to be spent on. There’s been millions of dollars spent on capital that haven’t delivered more service – the McTavish interchange, a transit yard in Royal Oak that we don’t need. The budget needs more scrutiny and we need to make sure that capital and operating money is benefitting the users and the service. As for light rail, there needs to be a third-party review of the expenditure and then it may need a referendum. The business case prepared by B.C. Transit is not sufficient. I’ve been critical of transit for not providing sufficient east-west routes in Saanich. I’ve been frustrated that I haven’t been able to convince B.C. Transit to look at that. They’re really focussed on cul-de-sacs in Langford, but there are larger populations on some of the east-west streets in Saanich that aren’t being served.”

 

Susan Brice, council candidate:

“If we could be part of a larger regional transportation plan we would know where to place the resources. At this point, Saanich uses options such as redevelopment to improve infrastructure in a surrounding area – investing cycling lanes, sidewalks and pullouts for buses. The road network that goes through Saanich, it’s part of a bigger network that needs to be looked at regionally.”

 

Judy Brownoff, council candidate:

“If transit is to be seen as the preferred choice, as congestion continues to happen we need to get transit out of that congestion or ahead of the congestion. There’s only one thing to do: remove a lane of traffic in rush hour so you can get the buses to their destination faster. We have to really focus on things like having transit priority lighting and different modes of transit. If you get more people on transit, that means there’s more capacity on the roads for goods and services and businesses to move around.”

 

Vic Derman, council candidate:

“The transit system needs to be changed at a regional level. In Saanich, we need to have a broad vision in  how we’re going to integrate the things that influence transit – like making sure our development plans are consistently aimed at allowing transit to operate efficiently. Then we have to analyze: where do we want to be in the future? As a consequence, what are we going to have to change, how are we going to set a plan to get there, and how are we going to finance that plan? And once we start to formulate policy, we have to embed that into our decision-making process.”

 

Paul Gerrard, council candidate:

“We need an overhaul of the complete transit system to look at schedules, possible HOV lanes and improved service. Even with LRT, we’re still going to need regular and good bus service. Maybe there’s a different way of doing local service like with a community bus in an area like Royal Oak or the Gorge, and it’ll take you to places people need to get to every day: the library, the supermarket, a village centre. We’ll need an expansion of service as an offshoot of the main arterial routes.”

 

Ingrid Ip, council candidate:

“We need to have some kind of something going along and down Douglas Street, whether it’s light rail or special bus lanes. And then, of course, it’s the McKenzie interchange. Things need to happen step by step. You’ve got to deal with the most critical areas first, which is the Trans-Canada. That’s having the biggest impact on traffic everywhere else right now.”

 

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

“What we’re seeing is that there’s clearly a desire for a system change, a restructuring and realignment. We need to locate transit hubs in the urban centres with rapid transit on major corridors. That means we’re going to have to build dedicated transit rights of way, at least dedicated during peak hours, on streets like Shelbourne, McKenzie, Quadra and Douglas. Once we build up those major transit hubs, we’ll have to do community bus service so you’re collecting people in the neighbourhoods and bringing them to these transit hubs.”

 

Vicki Sanders, council candidate:

“Transit needs to think about connecting across the grid, look at it at a regional level, so everybody in the neighbourhood can easily access transit. I think we need to start looking at commuter buses, smaller buses that run through in-trails. If you can’t get someone to a transit hub – light rail station or a park and ride – you’re not going to improve the congestion. We can’t look at any park of this whole transportation puzzle in isolation.”

 

Nichola Wade, council candidate:

“We need to work with the major demand centres to figure out if we can smooth out peak demand there, because there’s no point in having infrastructure hitting there if there are times when buses are going there empty or other times folks can’t get on them. In advance of LRT, dedicated transit lanes on Trans-Canada Highway, Douglas, Blanshard need to be put in, maybe starting in peak hours, so that we’re actually making transit faster than being in your vehicle.”

 

Leif Wergeland, council candidate:

“We do need rapid transit, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about that. Whether that’s light-rail or transit bus, I don’t know, but the dollars and cents will determine, to quite an extent, which direction we move on it. I think we need an overall transportation strategy where we see everything connected up – not just rapid transit, but how everything’s going to connect across communities. There has to be a long-term plan for communities to see and buy in to.”

 

Rob Wickson, council candidate:

“Transit needs to be brought into an umbrella that looks at transportation in totality. You can’t look at transit by itself – you have to figure out how it links to all the other choices in the community. And to have transit as a standalone organization that has all kinds of public oversight but not have the other transportation mode choices under the same umbrella doesn’t make sense. You’ll never get an efficient transit system that way – you’ll always be competing against those elements that aren’t included in the discussion.”

 

Harald Wolf, council candidate:

“I’m definitely pushing for making any spine system, light-rail transit or bus rapid transit, that serves the whole region and definitely serves Saanich. I’m concerned the transportation planning right now is being driven by the Western Communities. The biggest disappointment right now is the transit service to UVic. It seems not central to planning, and yet it has a huge population moving in and out every day. A movement to get our own transit authority here makes sense, so we can all be in charge of how we plan transit for the future.”

 

*Candidates Jesse McClinton and David Shebib did not return requests for comment.

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