VICTORIA -- The B.C. government is looking to improve public and active transportation, as part of its long-term South Island transportation plan.

The province says personal vehicles account for nearly 70 per cent of the more than one million trips that are taken every day on the South Island, which can lead to traffic congestion in some areas.

With the population of southern Vancouver Island expected to rise by more than 23 per cent over the next 20 years, the province is hoping to improve public transit and active transportation to help ease traffic congestion.

To make these improvements, the province says it will focus on increasing public transportation options, improving the safety and reliability of public transit and expanding the number of active transportation public transit routes between communities across the South Island.

In the short term, the Ministry of Transportation is looking at adding bus lanes to the Patricia Bay Highway.

In the medium term, the province says it may add transit priority lanes to Highway 1 towards the Western communities, like Langford and Colwood.

Over the long term, the B.C. government plans to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations available in the South Island, install bike lockers in “key community locations,” support the creation of more trails between the Capital Regional District and Cowichan Valley Regional District, install more bus stops near Indigenous communities and develop more park-and-ride stalls.

“A strong transportation system for the South Island will have a great impact in addressing important climate action and social-equity objectives for our region,” said Aaron Stone, chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, in a statement Friday.

“Moving forward, we will continue working closely with the ministry, BC Transit and other stakeholders to meet our transportation needs today and into the future,” he said.

While the province says it is focusing on improving public transit and active transportation options moving forward, it will continue to support current traffic projects.

Those projects include a flyover overpass addition to the Pat Bay Highway, the installation of median barriers on Leigh Road along Highway 1 and improvements to a deadly stretch of road on Highway 14 near Sooke.