I am writing this letter to voice my concerns regarding the issue of reduced service on community shuttle buses.
I had just moved to the White Rock area from the East Coast at the beginning of August and was thrilled that this wonderful commuter service was available.
Shortly after, I was shocked to see the signs of the reduced service posted on bus-stop poles and wondered how the ‘powers that be’ come to the conclusion that this service needed to be reduced. Certainly not by riding the shuttle buses and observing the seniors, tourists, workers, moms and schoolchildren that use this service!
And if they relied on the Compass Card information to base their decision on – as I was told by one bus driver – well, it’s not really accurate.
I was told that the purpose of ‘tapping’ when you get on and off the bus is supposed to provide data as to how often and where this transit service was used.
During my frequent use of the shuttle buses, only twice did I see anyone tap off when they left the bus. I myself was not aware of these instructions until a fellow senior commuter pointed it out. I have forgotten at least 90 per cent of the time, and almost no one taps off upon exiting.
It’s hard to base decisions on data which is not accurate.
Since moving here, I have realized that White Rock is a city of extreme slopes and steep roads, all in a concentrated area. This is not typical of other TransLink service areas and should be a factor in decision-making.
It is extremely difficult for commuters to navigate and very slippery when wet.
It takes a bit of finesse on the commuter’s part to co-ordinate schedules to get to their destination in a decent amount of time. With these new schedules, it is more difficult to make connections, and the buses are fuller. A missed connection now is not just over an hour wait, but can translate to a missed appointment – some with monetary penalties, such as medical appointments.
A lot of commuters are seniors who rely on this service. It is their way of being independent, shopping, going to medical appointments and having a social life. After all, a lot of these seniors paid taxes and helped build White Rock. Now, they no longer drive due to health restrictions but are fiercely independent. They also support the restaurants, grocery stores, shops, hair salons, etc.
Tourists also seem to be here year round, peaking in the spring, summer and autumn months.
Cutbacks of this nature restrict the flow of economy.
One of my personal observations: While riding on one of the shuttle buses on an extremely hot day back in September, the bus did not stop for an elderly female senior with a walker, as the bus was full. I was told the buses are not allowed to have standing passengers.
I ran into this senior on a later occasion at a bus stop, and she said she had to wait two hours in the heat before she was able to get on a bus.
I realize this decision to reduce schedules was based on some type of statistical data regarding ridership, however, beyond the paper facts, there is a humanity involved – the same people who create a wonderful place to call home and attract others to visit this wonderful, charming little city.
Sometimes it’s not about ‘bottom-line’ decisions but doing what is morally right.
Christine Branker, White Rock