Plans for transit queue-jump lanes in Colwood are underway as $250,000 in planning funds will go towards them in the new year.
B.C. Transit commissioners approved in principle the funding as part of the 2019-20 budget this week.
The initiative is part of the Island Highway Transit Priority Project where B.C. Transit will partner with View Royal, Colwood and Langford to improve transit between the West Shore and the City of Victoria.
The queue-jump lanes in Colwood will cost an estimated $2.3 million. However, before they can be built, planning and public consultations are required.
“The next phase is doing more design work,” said James Wadsworth, a planning manager with BC Transit. “But before we do that we still have to do some community engagement as part of this process so the budget will help us do that.”
Colwood council approved the plans for the lanes in principle in October.
Moving forward, more detailed plans will be sent to Colwood council again for approval and if they are willing to go ahead with them, building phases of the lanes and transit priority signals could begin, according to Wadsworth.
“It’s a similar process that we followed with the City of Victoria when we developed plans for the bus lanes on Douglas Street,” Wadsworth said.
He noted BC Transit, the City of Colwood and the transit commission are “halfway there” when it comes to implementing the plan for the lanes.
“This phase is to come up with a detailed plan and to do some stakeholder engagement with property owners,” Wadsworth said. “We’ll work with the City of Colwood … and we’ll come up with a plan to construct this.”
As of right now, the plan is to create queue-jump lanes at Goldstream Avenue and the Island Highway/Sooke Road intersection as well as at the Wale Road and Island Highway intersection. The first of the two intersections will cost about $800,000 and the second will cost about $1.2 million.
The third part of the plan is to equip 55 buses with transit signal priority equipment which is estimated to cost about $325,000.
Wadsworth said BC Transit will be working with the City of Colwood to develop a more detailed plan and work with the community.
Similar plans for highway transit priority will be going to View Royal council for approval in January. If approved, a process like the one in Colwood will follow.
These improvements are part of a 25-year transit plan for the region that is to help ease public transit woes.
Wadsworth said the section that is already in place on Douglas Road up to Saanich Road is estimated to save about four minutes of travel time. The section from Uptown to Tillicum Road is saving transit passengers about 10 minutes of time.
“All of these sections are combining together to make commuting by transit easier and more attractive,” Wadsworth said. “If buses can move faster down the corridor we can do more trips and have more service.”