British Columbia

Victoria Transit Commission wants downtown speed limit back up to 50

The Victoria Transit Commission says a reduced speed limit on a number of streets in the downtown core is wreaking havoc on the bus schedule.

Streets slowed to 40 km/h in 2014 weaking havoc with bus system, transit authority says

Reduced speed limits on Victoria's streets have affected the efficiency of the city's bus system, says BC Transit. (CHEK News)

The Victoria Transit Commission says a reduced speed limit on a number of streets in the downtown core is wreaking havoc on the bus schedule.

In 2014, a number of streets around Victoria had their speed limits lowered from 50 km/h to 40 km/h. BC Transit spokesperson Drew Snider says that, as a result, the transit authority has had to drop as many as 30 trips a day from its schedule, as buses can't complete their routes in time.

"That starts to add up," Snider told On the Island host Robyn Burns. "You start missing those connections, then you're getting backed up, you're getting late for work."

The goal of the lowered speed limit was to make Victoria a more "livable" city, encouraging alternatives to car travel such as walking and biking. But Snider said the impact on the bus system is having the opposite effect.

"What all this does is it detracts from the attractiveness of public transit as a viable alternative to the private car," he said. "So you've got people now going, to heck with this, I'm going to drive instead of taking transit, and that starts to become counter-productive."

Not a "kneejerk reaction"

Shellie Gudgeon, a former Victoria city councillor who pushed for the new speed limit, said the transit commission needs to find a different solution.

"I'm stunned that they think that that's OK, to make up their time by increasing their speed."

Snider said the call for increased speed limits is not a "kneejerk reaction," but the result of 15 months of monitoring and schedule-tweaking in an effort to find a solution.

He also said the commission does not want all speed limits brought up to 50 km/h — just a handful of streets that see heavy bus traffic, including Fort, Yates, Pandora and Douglas.

James Wadsworth, a senior transit planner for BC Transit, said that although a speed limit hike is the commission's preferred solution, potential alternatives include dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority, where buses are fitted with devices that turn traffic lights green for them.

With files from CBC's On the Island.

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