As of April 1, transit provider First Canada will take over the Cowichan Valley handyDART and Youbou/Honeymoon Bay transit services on behalf of BC Transit, an announcement that came as bad news for Cowichan Lake Community Services.
The system is currently being delivered through Oak Transit and Cowichan Lake Community Services but, according to a press release issued by the company, “BC Transit undertakes a request for proposal process for our transit systems on a regular basis to ensure best value for tax payer dollars.”
While the contract has been awarded to a different service provider, the schedules, routing and fares will not change.
First Canada is already responsible for operating the Cowichan Valley conventional system, Cowichan Valley commuter, and Victoria handyDART services. BC Transit still operates the Victoria conventional transit service.
Oak Transit and Cowichan Lake Community Services had held the contract for years.
Melaina Patenaude, executive director of Cowichan Lake Community Services said “the takeover was not welcomed” by her group.
“We have been operating the transit in our region for over 25 years and wanted to keep it locally operated,” she said. “It has been difficult to accept BC Transit’s decision to centralize, especially because it means a loss of income for CLCS that we depended on for staff wages.”
The transition to First Canada has gone well, all things considered, she conceded.
“They are trying their best to keep things local (gas, mechanical, drivers) and to avoid too many disruptions to the community,” Patenaude said. “We wish them all the best. And we will continue to serve our community in meaningful ways here at CLCS.”