The City of Langford’s new luxury commuter bus to Victoria completed test runs Wednesday.
With a capacity of 50 passengers, the Langtoria Greenline bus will be a drop in the bucket, when it comes to solving congestion between Victoria and the West Shore. An average of 83,000 vehicles travelled daily on the Trans-Canada Highway just west of Helmcken interchange in 2015, according to data from a Transportation Ministry traffic counter.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said it’s the first step in gauging interest for alternative forms of transportation, for drivers who haven’t been wooed by B.C. Transit. “It’s a start to see what it takes to get people out of their cars,” Young said. “It’s 50 people, but I can tell your right now that if it’s successful, it will grow.”
Amenities on the coach are to include comfortable seats, morning newspapers, coffee and Wi-Fi.
The Wednesday morning test run arrived ahead of schedule, project manager Jeff Warwick said. It left the Langford Aquatic Centre at the Westhills YMCA/YWCA at about 6:35 a.m. and arrived in downtown Victoria at about 7:27 a.m.
Service officially launches Monday morning.
Monthly passes are $115.50 and round-trip day passes will be $15.75, subject to availability.
The City of Langford is subsidizing the service by up to $60,000, which Young said will be offset by advertising revenue.
The service will begin with three stops in Langford: the Langford Aquatic Centre, Goldstream Village and Langford Fire Hall. It will have six stops in Victoria at the downtown bus depot; on Douglas at Fort, Pandora and Discovery; near Gorge and Jutland; and at Douglas and Cloverdale.
Young said it will be a work in progress, in terms of figuring out scheduling and stops. If the service is popular, the city plans to add more buses and possibly new routes to places such as the University of Victoria.
The Transportation Ministry said in an email that it supports the project. “It’s a complement to public transit and a comfortable alternative to driving,” the ministry said.“Any reduction in vehicles on the road helps to decrease traffic congestion and is a better choice for the environment. This is about choice — those who wish to pay a premium for added comfort in their daily commute can now do so.”
NDP transportation critic Claire Trevena also applauded the project. She attributed continued congestion to the province’s mismanagement of transportation projects. “I think it really does speak to the frustration of people within the Western Communities, that a municipality is having to set up its own private transportation system,” she said.
Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs both the Victoria Regional Transit Commission and the Capital Regional District’s transportation committee, said she’ll be watching the project to see how it fits in with other regional transportation projects, including B.C. Transit.
“I think it will be very interesting to see if it is able to meet a real need for Langford,” she said.
“These issues all overlap. They’re complex and the idea of a better public transit system is a goal for all of us.”
© Copyright Times Colonist