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Private connector service to Ladysmith could be available by fall

Cowichan residents could have transit service to Ladysmith as soon as fall.

Lyle Jordan, of Emergency First Aid Service, said his non-emergency transport company is undergoing licensing amendments to run the Ladysmith Connector, which would accommodate passengers travelling between Ladysmith and Duncan, and Ladysmith and Nanaimo.

“This town is screaming for a transit service to link up Duncan and Nanaimo,” Jordan said.

“It’s time to take the bull by the horns and just do it... We already have a serviceable fleet that’s operational, we have the trained members, the dedicated staff and the vehicles and the safety record to go behind the vehicles.”

While logistics and scheduling wrinkles are being smoothed out, Jordan is liasing with members of the community, business owners and the regional districts in Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley to determine where the needs are.

“We don’t want to see the taxes in the township of Ladysmith go up because we are providing a bus service,” he said.

“If we don’t get the ridership but there is a demand for it right off the bat, we may apply for a federal grant which is meant for improving the community.”

However, ridership will be the bottom line for continued service and Jordan projects there will need to be a minimum of 50 riders per day.

“It was explained about our current limitations in terms of what we can do,” Ladysmith Councillor Jill Dashwood said.

“B.C. Transit is not extending any of its services or creating new routes at the moment, they’re not going to do anything. So for the short term, I think this is a really wonderful idea.”

Jordan said that as a private transfer company, EFAS, will not face the same road blocks as the Town of Ladysmith to obtain an intercity bus license, which would be required for such a service.

Once all the licensing is in place, Jordan plans to hold a grand opening of the Ladysmith Connector Sept. 15.

Ladysmith Connector passengers will be transported in a modified eight passenger Ford E-350 high top which is handicap accessible for the interim until a feasibility study can be done.

“Ultimately, we’re going to upgrade up to a 23 passenger bus with handicapped capability, which will run every hour and 15 minutes to opposite cities,” said Jordan, “and then if the strength and sustainability continues, we’re going to purchase a second bus and we’d like to start, every hour, runs to the cities separately.”

Pick up and drop off locations in Duncan include the Cowichan Commons and Duncan city square.

Passengers can expect to pay $10 for a one way ticket.

Service will also include drop off-only runs to the Nanaimo Airport and Duke Point Ferry terminal.

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