On November 12 Councillor Kerrie Reay moved a Notice of Motion requesting that Sooke mayor and council forward a letter to Victoria Transit Commission requesting them to ensure appropriate and sufficient service to meet the need of high ridership from the Sooke region and the motion passed in council on November 25.
Council also directed that Coun. Reay attend at the next Victoria Regional Transit Commission meeting to present the letter.
Reay addressed the Victoria Regional Transit Commission (VRTC) on December 11 on behalf of the District of Sooke to raise a number of issues regarding declining service to Sooke. The following is a summary of those remarks:
“As a daily user of transit from Sooke to downtown Victoria since 2008, commuting during rush hour on the #61 bus has mostly been a good experience.
“This appears to have shifted in September 2013. Until that time, most busses travelling to and from Sooke have been double-deckers, and this serves our area well. But for the past few months we have noted that low-rider busses are being substituted for double-deckers on many of the rush hour routes, especially those that travel home from downtown Victoria to Sooke.
“Often, many Sooke commuters are forced to stand for a majority of the one hour and 10 minutes commuting time they are on the bus. There have also been several occasions when the scheduled bus did not come at all, leaving the next bus over-crowded, and many people late returning to Sooke.”
A number of examples were provided to the VRTC by Reay including; watching Sooke residents being left at the curb and buses arriving “Sorry we are full” after already waiting half an hour.
“Critical to this discussion is the issue of safety. Any person on the bus travelling the highway from Langford to Sooke can appreciate that a fully loaded low-rider that is standing room only right to the door, has a very high potential for a tragic outcome.
“The bus travels at 80 kph on the Trans Canada highway and four lanes, and at 60 kph around the tight and numerous corners. Transit users who are forced to stand feel vulnerable and concerned for their safety – especially through the fall and winter months with weather and road conditions, early night fall, deer and not to mention the recent problems with someone shooting pellets at the buses.”
Reay advised the VRTC that, according to the 2011 census, the growth of Sooke was just shy of 18 per cent, “it is one of the fastest growing communities on the Island, yet we have seen no corresponding increase to transit service.”
Reay indicated it was absolutely imperative that BC Transit ensures appropriate scheduling and service to meet the current demand. This requires the use of double-deckers for residents of Sooke who commute during peak times, so that they can expect to have reliable and safe service. If there are not enough double-deckers to meet the demand then BC Transit should add extra buses during these peak times. She said a number of people who were regular transit users are now driving into work because they are not prepared to stand all the way to Sooke anymore.
Reay also requested BC Transit re-examine the service and scheduling for after hours and weekends. Service during these times is also insufficient for the demands of the growing community of Sooke.
Coun. Reay can be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org