Transit cuts don’t sit well with White Rock resident

WHITE ROCK – A White Rock resident has started a petition urging residents to sign on the dotted line. The issue? Transit cuts made earlier this month, specifically to routes C50, C51, C52 and C53.

“They only run until seven in the evening now, compared to nine o’clock. And some only come every hour, rather than half an hour,” said Sheila Swift of Stayte Road. “As someone who uses the bus every day, these are a lifeline.”

The 75-year-old said if she’s out later than 7 p.m., the trek to her house from the city’s centre is around a 35-minute walk.

“I value my independence very much, but there might be a time when I can’t make that walk and I’m housebound,” she added.

According to Swift, who had heard about the cuts through word-of-mouth, TransLink did not do a good enough job in informing the public.

“They had these notes up at the bus stops, but there wasn’t one on the one I use,” she said.

Swift is also asking residents to write TransLink about any bad experiences, letters she plans to hand-deliver herself. “There are times when drivers go by and not stop because there’s no room. I saw an old man in a wheelchair get left behind. He had to wait there for another hour.

“You can’t expect we won’t have doctor’s appointments or groceries to pick up. We are a retirement community who have chosen not to drive, can’t afford it or are unable to anymore.”

The biggest concern Swift has is the impact reduced service will have on seniors once the weather changes.

“Besides having more service, bus shelters need to be installed because there aren’t any.”

At her stop, a big tree provides cover during rainy or snowy periods.

TransLink tweaks its schedules four times a year, based on a counter-system that records how many people are using the bus on a per

trip basis. Since 2010, the corporation has carried the same level of service, meaning resources are reduced but then redirected to areas experiencing overcrowding.

“We were observing three to eight people per trip on a bus that could accommodate 24,” said TransLink’s Jeff Busby. “The cuts made to these routes helped increase service along the 319.”

When asked whether TransLink could have done more to spread the word about the reductions, Busby said officials tried to carry out as robust an outreach as possible.

“We updated our newsletter, we provided information cards at stops, took out ads in local papers and had a pretty large online presence.”

Situations like the one near Swift’s home, where there is a demand in ridership, but a shortage of service, is what Busby calls “insufficient capacity.”

“If these changes have impacted residents, we would like to hear about it and make adjustments. We regret any inconvenience they impose,” he said, adding the spike in ridership could have come from more people going to the beach given the higher-thannormal temperatures.

Meanwhile, Swift’s end goal is to get the schedule back to where it was prior to Sept. 1. She’s been in contact with the Mayor Wayne Baldwin and hopes to eventually sit down with TransLink CEO, Ian Jarvis.

Baldwin said until more funding is provided, TransLink is financially strapped. A referendum on a $7.5-billion transportation plan is slated to be held early next year.

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