City officials are hopeful a pilot project next week could help alleviate at least some of the traffic woes and keep buses on schedule along Lewes Boulevard during weekday mornings.
The city’s transit department announced this morning it will test out having a dedicated bus lane in Riverdale between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. next Monday through Friday.
The plans will see the city use a bike lane for the temporary dedicated bus route.
“We are not stopping any traffic,” transit manager Cheri Malo said in an interview this morning.
The city’s engineering department has done work to make sure there is enough room on the road for a bus lane, Malo stressed.
Along with engineering, the pilot project has involved planning and sustainability, operations and bylaw staff in looking at ways to deal with the morning traffic in Riverdale.
The congestion often causes buses to fall significantly behind schedule – thus impacting bus service throughout the city.
“As it stands, transit buses are delayed up to 17 minutes coming out of Riverdale during this busy morning period,” Malo said.
“By improving public transit, the city can also make air quality better and help commuters reach their destinations safer and faster.”
She said one of the buses out of Riverdale today was behind schedule by more than 17 minutes.
Because of the route for that bus, that left riders as far away as Porter Creek waiting for their ride downtown.
During peak hours, including the early morning runs, buses run every half-hour.
Looking at figures from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, on the Riverdale route from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. there were an average of 169 riders Monday, 173 on Tuesday, 109 on Wednesday, 133 Thursday, 122 on Friday and 29 on Saturday. There is no bus service on Sunday.
Bus drivers, Malo said, are excited about the pilot project. It can be very stressful for drivers when it’s so difficult to stay on schedule.
Malo noted with the exception of the roundabout at Nisutlin Drive and Lewes Boulevard and at a stop light, buses won’t be merging in and out of traffic as they have to now at each stop.
Instead, it’s anticipated that with the new lane, buses will be passing stopped or slow-moving vehicles in the main traffic lane.
In establishing the temporary bus lane, pylons will be placed along Lewes from Grey Mountain Primary School to the traffic lights at Hospital Road.
Drivers – including those who may be dropping off students at Selkirk Elementary School and F.H. Collins Secondary School on Lewes Boulevard – are reminded not to park anywhere along Lewes Boulevard during the pilot project.
The city will monitor the project with both on-site observers and camera footage.
A survey will also be available at www.whitehorse.ca/transit after the pilot is done.
The city will look at the results of the project and survey which will inform the development of recommendations in the city’s transit master plan.