Traffic passes by F.H. Collins Secondary School on Lewes Boulevard late in the morning on Jan. 11. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse transit pilot project dedicates lane to morning buses

‘Why ever use a bus if you’re sitting in traffic?’

If you’ve waited for a morning bus in Riverdale, you know they can show up as much as 17 minutes late.

That’s why the city is launching a pilot project next week to test a bus-only lane along Lewes Blvd., from January 15 to 19, between 7:30 and 9 a.m.

“We have been talking about what does a healthy city look like and what does transit look like,” says Cheri Malo, transit manager. “Riverdale is one of the areas that has one of the highest densities of the population in one area.”

Malo says a lot of transit users originate there. The six buses that pass through the neighbourhood between 7:30 and 9 a.m. carry an average total of 736 riders in the course of a week.

Some of those riders rely solely on public transit to get to work or school, where showing up late isn’t an option, says Malo.

For those who do own cars, bus wait times offer little incentive to continue riding.

“Why ever use a bus if you’re sitting in traffic?” she says.

The hope is that bus times will improve with the dedicated lane, with no negative impact for drivers. Malo also hopes the project convinces some drivers to consider public transit.

“They’re going to start thinking every day when the bus goes by them.”

Malo and a number of city staff will be onsite to observe the traffic flow along Lewes from Grey Mountain Elementary School, to the traffic lights at Hospital Road.

That stretch will be marked with pylons to remind parents not to park in the lane next week when dropping kids off at Selkirk Elementary School and F.H. Collins Secondary School.

Malo says the dedicated lane won’t remain for evening traffic.

“Taking on this kind of thing is cumbersome,” she says. “The snapshot in the morning is going to give us what we need.”

Riders and drivers are invited to fill out an online survey (whitehorse.ca/transit) at the end of next week.

Results of the project will inform future Transit Master Plan recommendations.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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