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What has been accomplished?

Transit Business Plan Update 2003-2005

What Has Been Accomplished Since The Business Plan Was Approved?

Implementation in 1998/99

  • A new operating and driver schedule with improved operational efficiency was developed using Trapeze scheduling software.
  • The #12 Lost Lake route was replaced with the peak hour #12 Dover Connector service.
  • All day service between Malaspina University College (MUC) and downtown Nanaimo was provided through the extension of the #4 Bowen Road MUC trips to Downtown.
  • New #15 College Express service linking Malaspina University College and Woodgrove Mall was introduced.
  • Some early evening trips were reallocated to the more productive early peak hour period.
  • Local service between Parksville and Qualicum Beach was doubled (to hourly frequencies) and weekday service between Parksville and Woodgrove Mall was increased.
  • Some changes were made to peak hour timed transfers at Country Club Mall as recommended in the Plan.
  • Service routes for custom transit were introduced in a modified form. There is scheduled service to a number of facilities, but it generally does not pick up nearby customers who are not at these facilities.
Implementation in 1999/2000:
These changes were implemented in July 1999:
  • Service adjustments were made to the #2 Hammond Bay route.
  • Evening service on the #5 Fairview and #6 Harewood was combined.
  • #3 Hospital - Northfield and Labieux Roads routing options were introduced.
Implementation in 2000/01
  • Routing adjustments in Parksville-Qualicum Beach and some express trips between Parksville and Woodgrove were introduced. Implementation in 2001/02
  • The #9 Harbour City Express route was introduced in 2001, connecting major shopping centres along the Island Highway with downtown Nanaimo. Service to the south end was restructured to connect with this new route at South Parkway Plaza.
  • Sunday service was extended by 2 hours to improve transit options for people who work on Sundays.
  • Additional hours for schedule maintenance were introduced.
Implementation in 2002/03
  • Minor service reductions amounting to 1.5% of service were made in 2002 to meet budget targets. Specific low-performing trips were targeted.
Most of the immediate service enhancements outlined in the Transit Business Plan were implemented in 1998/99. However, as outlined in the table below, implementation of the medium range service enhancements has been more limited.

Service Description Implementation to date
Improved service to Harewood & MUC Some adjustments to Bowen Rd. route to improve MUC service.  Improved Harewood service not implemented.
Holiday service Not implemented.
Improved Hammond Bay /Departure Bay service Not implemented.
Early AM service Not implemented.
Town centre express service Harbour City Express introduced in 2001. 
Improved service coverage Has been studied in Gabriola Island, Cedar/Cassidy but not implemented.
Schedule maintenance Some schedule maintenance introduced in 2001.
Increased Parksville to Qualicum Beach service Implemented in 1998.
Increased Woodgrove to Parksville service (hourly) Some additional Woodgrove trips, including express trips, introduced in 2000, but frequency is roughly every 2 hours.

Busplan Conventional
The annual conventional transit service hours for the Nanaimo Regional Transit System increased from 88,434 in 1998/99 to 96,858 in 2002/03. This represents a 9.5% increase versus the 35% increase originally proposed in the Transit Business Plan. Over the same period, ridership has increased 40% to 2.2 million rides.
Busplan Custom
The annual custom transit service hours for the Nanaimo Regional Transit System increased from 19,751 in 1998/99 to 20,733 in 2002/03, a 5% increase. The Transit Business Plan had proposed a 34% increase in service over the same period. Custom transit ridership increased by just under 12% during this period.
UPDATE OF KEY TRANSIT MARKET INFORMATION There have been some significant changes to the transit market in Nanaimo since the Transit Business Plan was originally developed, including a general slowing of population growth in the region, and an increase in the student share of transit ridership.

Two week passenger counts
Two week passenger counts are taken once or twice each year in Nanaimo. Some of the key trends from recent passenger counts include the following:

  • There has been a steady increase in average weekday ridership, with a 29% increase from 6,761 in 1999 to 8,741 in 2002. Ridership is up for all time periods with the strongest percentage increase during the AM peak and midday periods.
  • Among passenger groups, students have seen the greatest ridership increase (+40%), followed by adults (+29%). Ridership among seniors increased from 1999 to 2001, but dropped in the most recent passenger count in 2002.
  • The #1 Rutherford and #4 Bowen Road routes experienced ridership growth above the system average and remain the most used routes. MUC students have contributed to ridership growth on the #4 Bowen Road route in particular. Growth on the #6 Harewood, #11 Cedar, #15 College Express, and #21 Woodgrove Connector routes was also well above the system average.
Public Opinion Survey (April 2000)
A public opinion survey of both transit users and non-users in the Nanaimo Region was undertaken in April 2000. Some of the key results include the following:
  • Nanaimo residents were more likely than residents of other communities to agree that they would use the bus more if the service was more frequent.
  • Like other BC residents, those in the Nanaimo see the major benefit of using transit to be that it is less expensive than a private vehicle. Only 10% see the major benefit to be that it is more socially or environmentally responsible.
  • 17% of residents report having taken transit in the last week, the highest proportion for any of the systems studied. According to the survey, 9% of Nanaimo employees and students usually take transit to get to work or school, with 5% using transit every day.
  • Residents of the Downtown/Harewood/Cedar/Chase River area are the most likely to be transit users. Almost 40% of these residents have taken the bus at least once in the last three months.
  • Seniors are not statistically more likely to use transit than other adult age groups.
Population trends: The Transit Business Plan was based on gradually moderating population growth in the RDN, decreasing from a 20% increase between 1991 and 1996 to a 14% increase between 1996 and 2001. In fact, population growth in the region (and in the province as a whole) slowed much more abruptly than what was forecast. The RDN's population increased by only 4.3% between 1996 and 2001 rather than the 14% that was forecast. Relative growth for different age groups have followed a similar pattern to what was originally forecast - with the 75+ group growing the fastest - but overall rates of growth have been slower. The share of the population aged 75 and over increased from 5.8% in 1996 to 7.7% in 2001.

In the short term, this slowdown in population growth will not have a major impact on transit use. Much of the forecast growth in transit ridership was based on increasing the market penetration for transit and encouraging commuters who currently travel by automobile to take the bus. If this slow rate of population growth continues over the longer term, however, it will begin to impact on the demand for transit.