North Island MLA Claire Trevena, City of Campbell River Transportation Manager Drew Hadfield and BC Transit vice president of asset management Aaron Lamb introduce the community Thursday morning to the three new Vicinity buses that will take to the streets as of Monday, replacing three older models currently in the fleet. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Three new buses accompany Campbell River transit system overhaul

Safer, greener buses will be on the roads as of Monday, when the new system offically launches

Three new buses have officially arrived in Campbell River to help with the additional capacity needed for BC Transit’s new scheduling and routing, which begins next week.

The new 30-foot Vicinity buses will replace three approximately 18-year-old buses currently being used here in Campbell River. The Vicinity buses, according to BC Transit, are much safer for passengers – with integrated closed circuit television systems – as well as being much more environmentally friendly.

“We’re going to be able to reduce our particulate matter from the old buses to the new buses by over 90 per cent,” says Aaron Lamb, vice president of asset management for BC Transit. “Providing these green solutions is just one way we can also provide sustainable solutions to transit.”

The closed circuit television system, Lamb says, “has been instrumental in supporting law enforcement across the province. BC Transit’s top priority is safety… and this is a way for us to enhance safety both for our passengers and our drivers.”

The new transit system, which launches on Monday, will replace the “hub and spoke” system currently in place, where all routes meet at the Community Centre downtown.

Under that system, the Community Centre was the only place passengers could use transfers to get from one bus to another, but now they will be able to use transfers at any stop on any route – provided it’s within the time allotment punched on their transfer.

BC Transit – along with the City of Campbell River – is hoping that a revamped system with more buses during peak hours and better routing and transferring will help encourage those in cars to maybe think about taking the bus a little more often.

“By providing frequent and reliable service – the two key goals that BC Transit is doing with this – we’re hoping to draw two, three, four per cent of the population that is in their car right now out of them and increase the transit road share,” Campbell River Transportation Manager Drew Hadfield said at the announcement of the system change earlier this month. “There’s a real benefit to the community in that. As a growing community we’re naturally seeing more and more cars on the road, and if we’re able to not necessarily reduce but at least maintain that number – we won’t have to add a bunch of infrastructure. And there’s obviously the greenhouse gas emission benefit, as well.”

North Island MLA Claire Trevena is hopeful, as well.

“I think this announcement is great news for Campbell River, great news for the North Island and great news for the province, because it’ll get more people onto more buses,” Trevena said at today’s announcement. “When you have a new bus like this, it’s a privelege to ride on them. I know there’s some controversy around some of the routes and the location of the operations and maintenance facility, but I think this is great news. We’re going to have three new buses in a city that’s seen ridership increase 91 per cent. There’s a huge commitment to public transportation in Campbell River, and I’m hoping it’s going to grow.”

BC Transit assures customers that there will be extra staff on hand for a few days after the implementation of the new system to help riders figure out the new routes and schedules.

They also say they will revisit the plan in about six months and check in on how things are going to ensure everything is running smoothly under the new plan – and make adjustments if required.