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‘Complete misery’: BC Ferries passenger pushes for Swartz Bay rain shelters

Rider sick of getting soaked – MLA says change is needed

Natasha Baldin/Contributor

A BC Ferries passenger and a local legislature member are pushing for functional rain and sun shelters at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal bus bay.

Stanley Tromp, a Vancouver resident who regularly takes the ferry between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, said he frequently waits outside in the rain to catch the bus at the Sidney ferry terminal.

While there is a small shelter currently in place in front of the bus bay, Tromp said it is not nearly large enough to accommodate all the passengers waiting in line, and that it is too far back from the sidewalk for passengers using it to keep their spot in line.

“People become soaked and shivering in complete misery, especially the elderly and disabled,” he said. “Some have no hats or umbrellas because rain was unexpected.”

In December, he contacted BC Ferries about the issue. Six months later, after communicating with BC Ferries and BC Transit, and other organizations involved in the multi-jurisdictional issue, he feels he is no closer to a solution.

“I’ve reached over a dozen people from different departments and jurisdictions, and it seems that nobody wants to deal with it or they don’t care,” he said, noting how the multiple parties involved is likely contributing to why the issue is slipping between the cracks.

Adam Olsen, B.C. Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Gulf Islands, said Tromp is not the only one to express concerns over the lack of shelter at Swartz Bay. As bus schedules revolve around Tsawwassen sailings, he added passengers coming into the terminal from the Gulf Islands often have to wait even longer for a bus.

Olsen has reached out repeatedly to BC Ferries and BC Transit and said neither organization has taken action to address the issue.

“I’ve raised this issue with both of them and I got back standard response where we have both of these organizations looking at each other to some extent, and acknowledging that there is some small amount of shelter,” he said.

“Clearly, the infrastructure that is there is not good enough, and I’m just really encouraging BC Ferries and BC Transit to make public transit a more desirable option and to increase the connectivity on both sides.”

In email responses to Tromp, BC Transit and Ministry of Transportation representatives acknowledged the Swartz Bay bus shelter is “in need of an upgrade to provide weather protection and improve passenger comfort,” but did not mention when the upgrade would occur.

BC Ferries’ 2019 long-term terminal development plan includes a “weather-protected pedestrian queuing space” for up to 360 passengers. However, there are no details about the timeline for its completion or its location in relation to the bus bays. The large-scale terminal renovations are not expected to be complete until 2044.

BC Ferries said in a statement to Black Press Media that there aren’t “any plans to build a bus shelter at this time.”

Tromp said he plans on starting a petition on in the next few weeks, and will pass around a written copy to riders standing in line next time he travels.

“It’s just the most elementary decency for BC Ferries to do this — it is incomprehensible why they don’t fix this simple problem,” Tromp said.

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