BRUCE CARTER: Don’t get left at the curb

Transportation system between Island and mainland needs to be streamlined

In considering its future transportation needs, Greater Victoria needs to look at how to better connect passengers to their destinations, whether for business, shopping or visiting family.

For instance, walk-on passengers on B.C. Ferries travelling from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen are left quite a ways from their final destination. If you’re heading to downtown Vancouver, you may still need a bus ride, rapid transit or a taxi to get there.

As more passengers leave their vehicles at home, we can do a better job of connecting them to their destinations. In addition, there is a growing number of people who do not own vehicles and are committed to using public transit.

Many ferry passengers who are travelling to downtown Vancouver have the added burden of trying to co-ordinate that connection. Using public transit is an option; however, without a guaranteed bus waiting when you disembark, if your ferry is late, you might miss the bus heading to your next connection.

As both residents and service providers, we are apathetic about our terminal-to-terminal routes. Around the world, effort is made to better combine modes of transportation that are tailored to the needs of their customers. This customer-service focus is an essential component to advancing transportation in British Columbia.

Currently, our models of transportation and connectivity seem to be developed in separate silos that often do not offer a collaborative approach to enhancing services. Even with many authorities and commissions that are responsible for long-term planning and vision of transit, airports and ferries, little seems to be done to co-ordinate these modes of transportation.

How can we do better?

The answer may be a destination-to-destination approach. When travelling to Europe you will find many services that offer combination packages to get you to your destination. Visitors can easily book a trip from city to city and their package may include ferry, train, bus, and airplane with no extra co-ordination on the traveller’s part. This connectivity is something to admire.

Moving people more efficiently is critical as transportation gets more congested. One example of this customer-centred transportation pass is the Europe Rail and Drive Pass. This pass allows the holder to use public transit combined with a rental car for a selected number of days.

A convenient one-pass option is also available in Sydney, Australia. By purchasing the “MyMulti” pass, visitors can ride the train, bus, government ferry and light rail. Passes are sold weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually to accommodate travellers, and are customizable through add-on options.

Convenient, co-ordinated transportation is where we should be heading. Making it convenient for residents and tourists to get to their destination should be the goal.

Is it too much to ask for the ability to purchase a single ticket to downtown Vancouver or Victoria, and actually get there without any other bookings, as well as guaranteed connections? Perhaps we need to up the ante and make the new Europass, the B.C. Pass. It is time to look at creative and innovative approaches to transportation, sooner rather than later, before we get left in the dust.

Bruce Carter is chief executive officer of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.