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City wants to implement GPS tracking on city buses

Campbell River is pursuing GPS and city bus tracking in an effort to encourage more people to use public transit.

Although Campbell River has the highest percentage of ridership among B.C. communities between 20,000 and 50,000 people, members of the city’s Youth Action Committee told city council last week that only 2.5 per cent of Campbell Riverites take the bus to work.

Manesha Bains said the group of high school students, which provides the city with a youth perspective, wants to change that.

“Our goal is to get people out of their cars and onto the bus,” Bains said.

But in order to do that, the city needs to make some improvements, say the youth.

The group surveyed 93 of its peers and several dozen members of the public and from the results, came up with five recommendations for council.

Topping the list is the need for resources to plan a transit user’s route.

“In Vancouver you can put in your address and where you want to go and it maps your route,” said Claire Billings, chair of the youth committee, who recommended Campbell River adopt “an easy to search website/online trip planner/bus tracking, and electronic information on bus frequency at bus stops.”

Coun. Andy Adams, who made the motion to have city staff pursue GPS tracking, agreed that the city could benefit from a tracking device so transit riders can instantly figure out whether or not they’ve missed the bus. He noted that local governments at the Union of BC Municipalities have also been lobbying for QR codes at bus stops that can be scanned with a smart phone to bring up the bus schedule.

And speaking of schedules, the youth said that’s something that could also use some improvement.

“A lot of the people who took the survey said they would like improved frequencies,” Billings said. “If you miss the bus it’s really hard to wait an hour for the next bus.”

The final recommendations were: more transit exchanges, including one in Willow Point; more shelters at bus stops and better lighting; additional routes including an option to connect from Dogwood to the Island Highway without having to go to the Community Centre, better connections, higher frequency along Alder and Dogwood; and a more frequent link to Courtenay.

Council agreed to incorporate the feedback from the Youth Action Committee into its future transit planning.

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