Letter: Douglas Street Transit Terminal Proposals

Mayor and Council City of Victoria No.1 Centennial Square Victoria, BC V8W 1P6

February 14, 2016

Re: BC and Commercial Transit On-Street Terminal Proposals

Dear Mayor and Council,

Members of the Victoria Downtown Residents’ Association (DRA) have recently spent substantial time studying and considering the proposed changes to transit terminals in the lower Douglas Street area of Victoria’s downtown neighbourhood.

BC Transit has just completed public consultation on several options for new on-street public transit terminals (bus layover zones) in the lower Douglas Street area. Concurrently, the consortium of commercial inter-city bus operators has made it known that they intend to relocate their terminal to an onstreet location next to Crystal Garden.

Of the five terminal options offered by BC Transit for public consideration, the DRA is particularly concerned about one of them—the ‘Humboldt Street Terminal’ (Option 8). This option proposes that the 700 Block of Humboldt Street be used as an on-street terminal for public transit buses. Such use would subject that block to 220 transit bus trips per day, and see some 3 to 6 parked buses laying over along the south side of that block at any given time. Our reasons for opposing this particular option include the following:

• The City of Victoria classifies Humboldt Street as a ‘Local Street’, which by definition should see a daily traffic volume of less than 1,000 vehicles, and by extension should have eliminated this option at the ‘screening’ level of BC Transit’s evaluation system.

• Four condominium buildings, home to over 1000 downtown residents, as well as two large hotels are located on the 700 Block of Humboldt Street. Subjecting this compact, high density residential neighbourhood to 220 transit bus trips per day, will increase the potential for vehicle-pedestrian collision, especially at the 5-way intersection where buses would need to execute a left-turn onto Humboldt from Douglas.

• Other less than ideal outcomes from the potential use of the 700 Block of Humboldt as an on-street terminal for public transit buses are: generally increased traffic congestion on that block; localized increase in noise and air pollution, decreased visibility impacting access to high-use driveways and parking garages; loss of on-street vehicle parking spots; as well as negative impacts on garbage collection services, deliveries, movers, tradespeople, storefront businesses, local daycare, and the hotels.

The DRA supports BC Transit’s goal of increasing ridership on public transit, and understands the need to increase capacity in the lower Douglas Street area, as identified in BC Transit’s 25 year ‘Transit Future Plan’. However, for the reasons stated above, we are opposed to the use of the 700 Block of Humboldt Street as an on-street terminal for public transit buses, and we urge you to reject this option. Regarding the relocation of the commercial bus terminal, it is our understanding that Wilson’s Transportation Ltd., representing the consortium of commercial inter-city bus operators plans to seek Council approval for a new terminal location. Their plan hinges on their ability to lease a section of roadway from the City, in the 700 Block of Douglas Street adjacent to Crystal Garden, for use as an onstreet pick-up and drop-off terminal serving all commercial inter-city buses departing from, and arriving in Victoria, as well as the Victoria Airport Shuttle. No alternative locations were presented. The DRA feels strongly that the proposed location for the on-street commercial bus terminal is undesirable for several reasons, including the following:

• Permitting a commercial bus terminal to occupy the proposed location will necessitate the relocation of a public transit bus stop to the north end of the 700 block of Douglas Street, thus relegating the entire east side of that block to serve as a ‘super bus stop’.

• Buses parked at the proposed location will interfere with sight lines on that block which will negatively impact the public enjoyment of one of Victoria’s most beautiful heritage buildings, Crystal Garden.

• Large groups of people standing while waiting for their bus will increase the congestion along the sidewalk on east side of the block, already heavily travelled by residents, tourists, and conventiongoers.

• Increased roadway congestion in that block will put pedestrians crossing the street at increased risk for a vehicle-pedestrian collision.

The DRA understands the need to have an inter-city bus terminal in Victoria, and that the location of the current terminal will no longer be available to the commercial bus operators in the near future. However, for the reasons stated above, we are opposed the use of the 700 Block of Douglas Street as a location for an on-street terminal for commercial buses. We urge you to reject this proposal, and encourage the proponents to fully consider an off-street location.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer our position for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Harrington Kaela Schramm Co-Chairs Victoria Downtown Residents Association

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