Drivers on Douglas Street in Victoria may, before long, find themselves watching buses roll past them during morning and afternoon commuting times.
Phase 1 of a joint project between B.C. Transit and the City of Victoria will see vehicle lanes along the main thoroughfare between Fisgard Street and Hillside Avenue realigned to create a bus/bike-only lane next to the curb.
Victoria Regional Transit Commission members this week approved a move that will see the lanes activated from 6 to 9 a.m. southbound from Monday to Friday, and from 3 to 6 p.m. northbound.
“The great part about this is … by using the curb we’re able to add this lane and not take away from general traffic lanes,” said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin.
Line painting and the removal of pedestrian traffic bulbs – they’ll be replaced with crossing lights – starts in November. The goal, Fortin said, is to have the work completed by early to mid-December, before the major Christmas shopping rush begins downtown.
“I think we’ve done a remarkable job to try to provide benefit to transit users, give the commuter a faster trip overall, extend the bike lanes – and we’re still able to accommodate the business concerns,” he said.
Having dedicated bus lanes will make the transit system more efficient, Fortin said.
“Because of the congestion, we’ve needed to have three times the amount of buses on there than we would need based on usage. You have to make them run on time.”
The change will affect 80 parking spaces on Douglas.
Phase 2 of the project, already agreed to by Victoria, will extend from Hillside to Tolmie Avenue at the Saanich border. From there to Uptown and beyond is the responsibility of the Ministry of Transportation, said B.C. Transit spokesperson Meribeth Burton.
“This is terrific news for our customers in that it makes B.C. Transit more frequent and reliable and it gives us the competitive edge over the single-occupancy vehicle,” she said.