A short time ago, Donna-Lynn Bonshor went to her mailbox to find a note that caused her some concern.
The unsigned and unattributed message read, in part:
“Attention West Sidney Residents. On September 4, 2018 BC Transit will remove bus #81 from its present route… and have it rerouted from McTavish to Sidney via Lochside. Why?
This means that West Sidney residents will have no access to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital or the Ferry.
Also, the #83 bus will not pass through West Sidney but will be rerouted to Mills Road.”
The note went on, urging residents to express their concern about the changes to BC Transit, Town Council, MLA Adam Olsen and the media.
Bonshor, whose two daughters are regular users of the bus routes in question, did just that. If the note was accurate, she said the changes would have an impact on her family, forcing them to walk further to get to their bus stops.
She also worried about how riders with mobility issues would be affected.
Bonshor reached out to BC Transit as well, but was still awaiting a response, although her email was acknowledged as having been received.
James Wadsworth, the Planning Manager for BC Transit, said he understood that some people will always view changes with some level of concern.
“I think a lot of it has to do with people actually learning about the changes and about their options, and we make every effort to help guide our customers through the changes,” said Wadsworth.
He said that Transit held an open house to discuss the route alterations back in April and have since provided information on their website (bctransit.com/victoria/schedules-and-maps) and through handouts on the buses. BC Transit staff will also go to selected bus stops on the two routes in question to help answer questions and address concerns regarding the changes.
“I can tell you that the new Route #87 will go through Dean Park and down to Saanich Hospital so there is definitely service to the hospital. The #83 will provide increased service to Mills Road and the West Sidney industrial area and, with the addition of the #88, there will be increased service to the airport, which has long been a concern to the entire region,” explained Wadsworth.
“I can tell you that, from a regional level people are very excited and pleased with the changes, particularly the increased access to the airport.”
Presented with additional information, Bonshor acknowledges that the note in her mailbox may have been a bit alarmist.
“I had already checked about the claim that you couldn’t get to the hospital and found out that it wasn’t accurate. I’m glad that they’re taking more steps to help people understand the changes,” she said.
For Wadsworth, it’s all in a day’s work.
“When you make changes, you’ll always have people who are concerned and we do our best to address those concerns,” said Wadsworth.
“I can tell you that, although some people may have to walk a bit further, bus stops will still be available within 400 metres of residences (about a five-minute walk). Service levels have not decreased and wait times will not exceed 30 minutes.”
Route changes will take effect on Sept. 4.
The addition of the two new routes was made possible through the purchase of four new buses and money for 10,000 additional service hours that was provided by the B.C. government and the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.