The City of White Rock’s free shuttle began running along the waterfront April 6, with service scheduled to continue until Sept. 30. (City of White Rock image)

White Rock’s unnoticed free shuttle ‘runs empty’

City working with operator of waterfront bus to address advertising needs

A White Rock councillor says he’s concerned money spent on White Rock’s free waterfront shuttle service is going to waste due to lack of signage on the white minibus that started doing runs along Marine Drive last month.

“I don’t think anyone can recognize it, with the comments I’ve been hearing from people,” Coun. Grant Meyer told Peace Arch News Thursday, noting he’s been hearing from residents who have noticed it “go back and forth empty.”

“One fellow rode it and the (driver) said, ‘Oh, you’re my first customer this week…’ It’s a little disappointing, to say the least. We spend all this money…”

The shuttle began operating on April 6 and is scheduled to continue – seven days a week, noon to 8 p.m. – through Sept. 30, to “help people move along the waterfront strip during the revitalization of Memorial Park and construction of the new parkade,” according to the city’s website.

Depending on traffic, it makes about three round-trips between East and West Beach per hour, with stops at Lee and Balsam streets, as well as at the White Rock museum and Bayview Park. It does not offer service outside of Marine Drive.

The initial budget of $100,000 was increased by $11,000 last month “after an RFP process and adding expenses such as signage.”

City communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi said the signage noted in the budget update referred to bus-stop signs that had to be created.

City staff “have also noted that there needs to be more signage on the shuttle bus,” Farrokhi said, adding the operator “may need to use the shuttle in other areas of Metro Vancouver, therefore, we are working with them on additional signage that meets both our needs.”

Meyer said a requirement for “significant signage,” at least eight inches high, should have been part of the RFP. He suggested removable magnetic decals would allow the bus to be used in other areas.

Farrokhi said it is too early to assume that a lack of signage on the bus is impacting the shuttle’s ridership. Based on last year’s trolley numbers, ridership was anticipated to be lower in April and May.

“The numbers in June and July are the ones that will be telling and we’ll be happy to share those with you,” she told PAN by email Thursday.

Efforts are underway to create greater awareness of the service, Farrokhi added.

Marine Drive business owner Tyson Blume agreed more advertising is needed.

Blume contacted PAN Thursday to comment on the issue. He praised the city for the service, but said he wished more people knew about it.

“I know that when I mention it to customers, nobody’s aware of it,” Blume said. “I feel like it’s just under-advertised. Conceptually, it’s wonderful.”

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Signage on White Rock’s courtesy waterfront shuttle is inadequate, says a city councillor. City officials say efforts are underway to increase awareness of the service. (Contributed photo)

Map of the city’s courtesy shuttle route. (City of White Rock graphic)

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