Two dozen residents came together Wednesday evening to discuss ways to improve transit in the White Rock area.
The forum, spearheaded by Sheila Swift, focused on complaints of inadequate bus service in the the community – specifically TransLink’s C50, C51, C52 and C53.
On the forum’s release, Swift, 75, calls for an immediate action to stagger the departure times for the community buses, rather than have them come at the same time.
She told Peace Arch News Thursday that cutbacks to TransLink’s community shuttle bus service – to once an hour between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. – which went into effect Sept. 1, affect vulnerable members of the community.
“For elderly people, they’re not driving anymore. They’re totally dependent on this service,” Swift said. “They’re very frightened. They can’t make doctor’s appointments. They can’t decided they want to just go into town and buy something.”
She added that a number of times, she has herself missed a bus that came earlier than its listed arrival time, or has spoken to others who have been stuck waiting for an hour for another bus.
And, none of the community bus stops have shelters to protect riders from the elements, she noted.
“On the day they changed the bus service, people were stranded on the waterfront,” Swift recalled. “One lady was two hours in the hot sun, a driver told me, and she was in a wheelchair.
“What we would like is for TransLink to come with us on our journeys, because they don’t have a clue.”
White Rock’s mayor attended and offered his assistance in bringing TransLink to the table to work co-operatively with the community, Swift said.
“After the forum, I felt fabulous. It was very worthwhile. Now, we have a group plan to continue our petition, and I’m planning to collect peoples’ stories about their experience.”
Since the cutbacks to the community buses, Swift has noticed changes in the ambience of the bus, with more transit users angry and frustrated while commuting.
“The community bus is the hub of community spirit in White Rock. (Before the changes), it used to feel safe and social, and now it isn’t.”
Swift is asking for those who want to share their transit stories to contact her at 604-531-8797 or to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
“It’s a vital service for me,” she said. “There’s no other means of transportation in this area.”