A Colwood entrepreneur is launching a private bus service to pick up where the impending cancellation of the military Blue Boat has left off.
The “Blue Bus” shuttle service will transport people between the Colwood location of the Military Family Resource Centre on Rosebank Road, and the CFB Esquimalt front gates starting May 1.
Buses are scheduled to leave near the military resource centre Monday to Friday for three morning runs before 7 a.m. Return trips will leave from near CFB Esquimalt at 4:15 and 4:45 p.m.
Blue Bus developer Cynthia Cummings has a husband and son in the navy who use the Blue Boat daily.
With the upcoming cancellation of the service at the end of April, she said it only seemed logical that somebody provide an alternative.
“I’m doing this because we are a military family,” said Cummings, who lives in Belmont Park. “I’m doing it for the military, just to ensure that our military community can continually, comfortably go to work.”
Cummings said she thinks of herself as a logistical coordinator putting together a needed service. She isn’t expecting to make a profit and is trying to keep the fare price as low as possible.
Ultimately, demand will drive service levels, and if it turns out that there is no demand, Cummings said her investment is minimal enough that she can shut the business down without much of a loss.
“If I last a month, or six months, I can stop at any time,” said Cummings. “I just figured let’s just do it. Let’s see what happens.”
She is selling the Blue Bus service as convenient, reliable, specific to the needs of the military personnel and a solution to get more cars off the “Colwood crawl.”
The project has fallen together quickly for Cummings, who is working with Wilson’s Transportation in Victoria to organize buses and drivers. She has already heard plenty of interest from military families and expects the service to be well used.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said her husband, Warrant Officer Wayne Cummings.
“I think the military is very keen on something like this or anything, because they don’t have a viable option, they don’t have a solution. This alleviates that issue.”
Cynthia Cummings said the Blue Bus service — blue in name only, unlike the outgoing Blue Boats — will have the capacity to transport about 320 people in the morning. Between 300 and 500 people use the Blue Boat daily.
With two buses per run, and three runs each weekday morning, and two back in the afternoon, Cummings said her company can fill the gap.
Parking for the service will be available for military personnel just inside the gates of the Department of National Defense property at the end of Rosebank Road.
CFB Esquimalt spokesperson Lt. Michael McWhinnie confirmed military members can use that parking for the Blue Bus. The area is being offered to for personnel who are carpooling and the bus service initiative fits that mandate.
“While CFB Esquimalt is discussing a number of transportation options with other parties, we are pleased to see a private initiative taken that may help to relieve the traffic congestion in the local area,” McWhinnie said.
Alternative parking will be available in the lower parking bowl of the West Shore Parks and Recreation property, near Bear Mountain arena.
The Blue Bus will swing up through that parking lot to pick up commuters. After that the buses will go directly to CFB Esquimalt, with no other stops.
“I think word will travel very quickly, which is great. That’s what we need,” Cummings said. “I think (the Blue Bus) just gives you a good option.”
A business licence from the City of Colwood is in the works and all transportation licensing comes through Wilson’s Transportation.
The Department of National Defense is not involved but has been informed of the intent of the business. The service will be available to all military personnel, families, civilian workers or any members of the public.
Riders will be able to purchase either a monthly pass at $60, a biweekly pass at $35 or a weekly pass at $20, plus HST.
For more information visit www.bluebusshuttle.com.