This map from the provincial government shows current and future transit improvements to Douglas Street.

This map from the provincial government shows current and future transit improvements to Douglas Street.

Improved bus service coming to Saanich in fall

Construction on rapid bus lanes serving northbound traffic between Tolmie Avenue and the Burnside Bridges

Officials are promising improved transit through Saanich in the fall as construction of rapid bus lanes along Douglas Street continues.

Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs the Victoria Regional Transit Commission (VRTC), said the current momentum of the project excites her.

“I look forward to the fall, when the southbound section from Tolmie Avenue to Hillside Avenue and the new northbound section are complete, and link into the existing bus priority lanes stretching to Fisgard Avenue,” she said.

Brice made these comments as crews have started to construct rapid bus lanes along Douglas Street to serve northbound traffic between Tolmie Avenue and the Burnside Bridges between Tillicum Road and McKenzie Avenue.

The project has a price tag of $14.2 million, with the provincial government expected to contribute $9.6 million, and the federal government the remaining $4.6 million under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

Jacob Bros. Construction of Surrey is building the lanes, and the Ministry of Transformation and Infrastructure has promised to “make every effort to minimize delays and maximize predictability for commuters by doing the majority of work outside of peak traffic periods.”

Provincial officials say the expansion will improve the regional commute.

“Extending the Douglas Street bus lane is good news for commuters frustrated with mounting congestion in Greater Victoria,” said Claire Trevena, transportation minister. “If we want to make a real dent in the gridlock, we need to change how people commute. These bus lanes will inspire more people to leave their cars at home when they see how fast and efficient public transit is, as buses fly by the cars sitting in traffic.”

Douglas Street is one of the busiest commuter routes. During peak travels, as many as 1,700 vehicles pass through the corridor per hour. Transit vehicles account for three per cent of traffic, but move about 40 per cent of the people who use the route.

Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, said the improvements are consistent with what he described as a “21st-century approach” to public transportation.

The northbound bus lanes complement southbound bus lanes that the City of Victoria is currently building between Tolmie Avenue and Hillside Avenue. The City of Victoria earlier improved northbound lanes

The project is among several projects currently underway (see map). Plans also calls for southbound rapid bus lanes from the Burnside Bridges to Tolmie Avenue. The provincial government is also studying rapid transit expansion along the Island Highway on the Westshore.

– This story was updated Thursday morning to correct the total project costs as $14.2 million, $9.6 million of that from the provicne and $4.6 million from the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.