White Rock residents are starting to speak out – expressing growing concern and anger – about recent cutbacks to TransLink’s community shuttle bus service.
Scott Olsen told Peace Arch News last week that a cutback to the schedule for community routes to once an hour between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., which went into effect Sept. 1, is affecting “thousands of people” on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
And resident Shirley Swift said in an email Saturday that missing a bus – or finding the bus they have waited for is full – could mean residents spending an hour standing in the rain this fall, and that hardships will only worsen as winter months approach.
TransLink senior manager of project development Jeff Busby said the C50 (Ocean Park-Peace Arch Hospital), C51 (White Rock Centre-Ocean Park), C52 (Seaside-White Rock Centre) and C53 (Cranley-White Rock Centre) community shuttle routes have gone down to hourly service in “non-peak hours” but continue half-hourly 6-9 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.
Under TransLink’s service-optimization program, he said, routes are adjusted four times a year, moving resources from under-used routes to others where there is overcrowding.
“In some cases we’re getting two to five people per trip on vehicles that can carry 24,” he said.
It is too early to assess feedback for a change that was introduced at the beginning of the month, he said, “but if problems emerge, we are monitoring routes and can make adjustments.”
Olsen, however, is predicting problems will emerge.
“We’re a community of many 55-plus people who need to get to doctors, need to get to important appointments and meetings,” Olsen said.
“There are people who work on the beach, and also a lot of youth who don’t find it easy to get around,” he said. “And while we’re known as a residential community, we’re also a tourist town.”
Olsen said the response to his phone calls to the city and MP and MLA offices is to be directed back to TransLink.
“The majority of people in White Rock are ticked off with TransLink,” he said.
“I’m tired of this, as a citizen. We need to start looking at White Rock like a city, not like a village.”
Swift said she plans to invite White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin and TransLink executives to travel the community buses with her and see for themselves how hard it is to connect with services travelling to Vancouver.
“I feel people are making decisions without having the experience – never using public transportation, being able to afford their own vehicles,” Swift wrote.
“They never will have (by) giving themselves raises while reducing services for people who cannot drive anymore or simply cannot afford to.
“It is an insult and very shameful what has happened.”