Dear ACRD Board Chair and Directors,
— This issue and letter was discussed at the February 10, ACRD Board Meeting. You can see it starting at 05:33 in the Youtube Video Below — I have written a followup correspondence here.
With the news of the Tofino Bus service suspension I hope it has become clear another path has to be forged, and quickly, and the ACRD is going to need to take a leading role.
The writing has been on the wall in terms of the profitibility of private scheduled bus service for decades not just on the Island but across the country. If people do not have access to a personal vehicle it is increasingly difficult to go anywhere at all no matter whether it is for personal pleasure, work, or needed health appointments.
As a frequent commuter before the pandemic, I saw many people hitchhiking on Highway 4 all year ‘round, rain or shine, sometimes the same people on a daily basis. Now that what little transportation service that there was is gone, we should anticipate more people to be hitchhiking. This is a serious safety concern and unfortunately an emergency that needs to be addressed.
I urge the ACRD to step into the breach and work with the provincial government, BC Transit and the Regional District of Nanaimo to connect Parksville/Qualicum, Port Alberni and the West Coast with regular bus service of at least twice a day. If COVID relief funding can go toward this initiatives I think it would be a very appropriate use of it to get it off the ground quickly. This is not something that can wait for months and years of planning and consultation. In the long term I see it as an economic driver for tourism as well as the social and economic well being of our population in general.
It is also a reminder that the Island railway as an existing piece of infrastructure that connects every major community south of Courtenay, is something that would be extremely beneficial to move people efficiently and safely around the Island.
Thank you for your time and consideration,