No crowding, no pass-ups, free Wi-Fi and no cost. Could there be a sweeter bus ride for a starving student?
It’s not going to dent B.C. Transit ridership or eliminate the need for parking lots, but Camosun College has launched a shuttle service for staff and students, running between the West Shore and the two Saanich-based campuses.
At the Lansdowne campus on Tuesday, only two days into operation, half a dozen people waited patiently for the 4:06 p.m. Camosun Express 20-person coach, which offers a 50 minute ride to a drop near the Six Mile Pub.
Laura Rechwan, 18, visual arts student who lives in Colwood, discovered the shuttle existed on Monday as it drove by. Giving up jam-packed bus rides, while often carting large canvases to campus, wasn’t a hard decision.
“I almost screamed for joy,” she said. “The seats are so comfortable and its relaxing. Now I won’t have to take two buses and be passed up because they’re full all the time.”
“I was so excited to find out about it,” added Doreen Provencher, assistant to the dean of aboriginal education. “I live in View Royal so a ride to the Six Mile pub is perfect.”
Camosun created the service based on surveys that indicated more than half the college staff and 34 per cent of faculty regularly travel between the Lansdowne and Interurban campuses, and a healthy number of staff, faculty and students live on the West Shore.
Camosun director of ancillary services Kathryn LeGros, who spearheaded the service, was relieved to see people boarding the shuttle, despite limited publicity of the rollout.
“It hasn’t had a lot of communication before classes started,” she said. “I’m happy the word is spreading.”
The shuttle starts its morning at 7 a.m. at City Centre Park in Langford, and makes stops at Six Mile Pub, Interurban campus and then Landowne. It does a trip between the campuses midday and then returns to Langford in the evening.
Camosun has an agreement for shuttle users to park at Six Mile Pub or Eagle Ridge Centre for free. The coach also fits up to four bikes.
Camosun staff will monitor ridership and survey shuttle users to gauge its uptake. The project has about $50,000 to keep it running until March 31, but after that LeGros said it will need to find a way to become “self sustaining.” Whether that is by charging a fee or finding grant funding isn’t clear.
Surveys indicate student and staff support the shuttle concept, but LeGros said they need see what happens when rubber hits the road.
“The idea (of a shuttle) has been floated for a number of years, but we were able to access funds to see if people really want to use it,” she said. “We want to see if there is active uptake on this.”
Rechwan is eager to see the shuttle service keep rolling past March, and is helping spread the word. “I texted it to all my friends who live on the West Shore” she said. “I hope it gets enough positive feedback to get funding.”
Check out camosun.ca/about/transportation/camosun-express.html for the schedule and location of stops for the Camosun Express.