Transit riders group calls Greater Victoria bus cancellations a ‘crisis’

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VICTORIA – Frustrated commuters will continue to face travel woes for the remainder of the year until new equipment and busses arrive in Victoria.

BC Transit told CTV News Vancouver Island it wants to apologize to riders that faced cancelled buses on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I do want to ensure riders we do our very best to deliver over 99 per cent of scheduled service every day. That is 3,200 trips a day,” said BC Transit’s general manager Kevin Schubert.

On Tuesday, 10 buses were cancelled across Greater Victoria and a dozen more were cancelled on Wednesday. BC Transit said in a news release Wednesday the cancellations were due to “bus availability.”

Schubert said the transit service is dealing with challenges like congestion and construction in Victoria.

“We’ve had a very significant increase in ridership, in fact in September we’ve seen almost a 10 per cent increase in year over year ridership,” he said.

The Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria says the region’s regular bus route cancellation is a crisis and the current system can’t support the number of people wanting to take the bus.

“What is happening is more and more people want to ride transit … and the system is showing the strain of that. We are putting our resources in the wrong place,” said Eric Doherty.

He adds there is a crisis in confidence in the transit system.

“We want people to sell their cars, to buy condos that don’t have parking spots, but in order to do that you have to have confidence the transit system is going to work this week and next year and five years from now and will be better and better,” said Doherty.

Ben Williams, president of Unifor Local 333 – the union representing bus operators – said cancellations will continue to happen.

“Until BC Transit is able to purchase those new pieces of equipment and get them in service in Victoria, we are going to see these kinds of situations where they are short equipment on a daily basis,” said Williams.

This is the third month the union has seen significant cancellations.

“We don’t see any end in sight until BC Transit gets these new vehicles,” said Willams.

BC Transit said 80 new buses will be coming in the new year and they expect this will help relieve some of the strain.

“The bus lanes will do us tremendous good in getting some service reliability and avoiding some of the congestion we face,” said Schubert.