B.C. Transit officials were on hand again Thursday to seek feedback on the Sooke Local Area Transit Plan.
It’s a process that stretches back almost a year when B.C. Transit ran two workshops in Sooke to get input on what residents wanted out of their transit service.
“This is phase two of the process. It’s where we present some development options and see whether we heard them (the people of Sooke) right and whether this is what they wanted to see,” Transit planner Aaron Thompson, said.
Based on the plans presented, what Transit heard was a desire for local routes that connect to regional-scale routes and an hourly service and late night service in Sooke.
The plans also reflect a desire for more direct, more frequent service from Sooke to Victoria’s core and better connections to CFB Esquimalt and post-secondary institutions.
Of course, these are still draft plans and a long way from any concrete actions to improve service.
“Take a look at this,” Sooke resident Mark Offay said as he pointed to one of the display boards.
“It says that here that implementation will take three to seven years [to implement the plans]. That’s just not immediate enough. Why drag this out so long? It’s a matter of adding buses and it should be done next week.”
Offay described how his wife had to leave the house at 6:20 a.m. every work day to get into Victoria by 8:20.
“That’s two hours each way and four hours on the bus every day for eight hours of work. How is that acceptable?”
Based on the timeline proposed by B.C. Transit, Offay said that his wife intends to buy a car for her daily commute.
Darrin Lane, a Sun River resident, echoed the same frustration.
“Our area is very under-serviced. People are walking up Sooke Road and up Phillips Road in the pitch dark with no sidewalks because there are no buses to take them up there,” Lane said.
“It’s dangerous and it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard to solve.”
But Adriana McMullen, the senior transit planner, said she remains optimistic the service is working for people and will continue to improve over time.
Asked to explain the estimate of up to seven years for the implementation of the plan, McMullen said it was all a matter of allocation of resources.
“The [Victoria] Transit Commission has a lot of different priorities that they’re trying to juggle. That’s why we have a planning process in the first place,” McMullen said.
“Right now we’re interested in seeing people’s responses to these proposed plans and making sure that we understand their priorities.
Anyone who was unable to attend Thursday’s sessions can still make their views known by taking an online survey on the B.C. Transit website.