4.0 CONCEPTUAL SERVICE OPTIONS
This chapter of the plan outlines the service improvements planned for the next two years (2001/02 and 2002/03). These are based on the "Medium Range Service Options (2000-2003) section of the Transit Business Plan, although there have been some modifications and changes in priorities based on the updated market information and other factors. Some additional service expansions options have also been included in the final section. These are lower priority items that are not likely to be implemented in the immediate two-year period, but which should be considered for the medium range.
Part A - Service expansion options planned for immediate implementation August 2001:
A new town centre express service would operate along the old Island Highway connecting Woodgrove, Rutherford, Country Club, downtown Nanaimo, and Southgate Mall. Service would be operated by 3 buses, providing 30 minutes service from 9 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday and from 10 AM to 5 PM Saturdays. The new Shopper Express service would alternate with existing #1 Rutherford trips improving mid-day and Saturday frequency to every 15 minutes between Woodgrove and downtown Nanaimo. (There is already 15-minute service on the #1 Rutherford route during peak times.) The service between downtown Nanaimo and Southgate is a significant improvement over the current hourly service provided by the #7 Chase River.
This service will provide a direct link between town centres and improve midday service frequencies. With its midday focus on connecting major retail centres, shoppers will be a key market, although others who need to travel at non-peak times will also benefit. Performance on this service will be closely monitored and extending the express service to include the peak periods will be considered for the future.
As a result of increasing traffic congestion and higher passenger loads, running times on transit routes are increasing to the point where it will become difficult to maintain schedules. This problem is particularly severe on the #3 Hospital and #4 Bowen Road routes. An additional 2 vehicles will be operated on these routes for 2 hours each in the AM and PM peak periods to allow for longer running times during some peak trips. The improved schedule reliability and improved connections will generate increased client confidence, which results in gradual ridership improvement.
Improved Sunday service was the most second frequently requested service improvement in the most recent on-board survey (just behind increased frequencies). Service will be extended by 2 hours for each of 8 buses operating on Sunday. This will require 800 annual hours of service and no additional vehicles. Earlier transit starting times will allow people who work on Sundays, primarily in the retail sector, to use transit to get to work.
The transit system will be vacating the Harbour Park transit exchange in 2001, and there are no alternative sites available in downtown Nanaimo. As a result, some restructuring of the transit system, particularly the connections and routing downtown, is required. This is expected to be a no-cost item that will not increase the overall level of service and costs.
Holiday service was the third most frequently requested service improvement in the most recent on-board survey; these and other comments received indicate a strong interest in at least a basic level of service on holidays. This proposal will introduce Sunday level of service on 11 statutory holidays. With most retail establishments open on most holidays, shoppers make up a key market for holiday service. Other key markets include youth and ferry passengers.