News

Proposed cutsbacks to community shuttles

Autumn O’Rourke takes the C43/44 bus to work. - Phil Melnychuk/The News
Autumn O’Rourke takes the C43/44 bus to work.
— image credit: Phil Melnychuk/The News

A Maple Ridge mother says proposed service cuts to three bus routes are going to make it tougher for her to get to work.

Autumn O’Rourke has to take the C43/44 to get from her home in northwest Maple Ridge to her job in Maple Meadows Business Park.

“I don’t drive and I have a daughter turning three this year.”

While her parents help with picking up her daughter, O’Rourke also relies on the bus to get to appointments at Ridge Meadows Hospital and for parenting courses at the Family Education Centre.

She has a disability and tried three or four times to get her driver’s licence, but has never progressed past the learner’s permit.

“It was hard for me to get this job. It took me a number of years to get it.”

She works from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. so it would mean only hourly bus service when she gets off work.

“In the summer time, it’s not a big deal. But come winter time, it’s a bit of a hassle to walk in the rain and every thing.”

TransLink is considering reducing the C43/44 Haney Place-Maple Meadows-Meadowtown service from every half hour to hourly during non-rush hour times. It’s proposing the same for the C47 Alouette-Port Haney Station-Haney Place route.

The bus company says the move will increase efficiency and save resources. During off-peak times, the three shuttles each only carry between three and eight people per trip on vehicles that have capacity for 24, TransLink says. Its final decision on the reductions won’t be made until later this summer.

Rush-hour service will remain at every half hour.

“I can get there fine. I just have to leave a bit earlier.”

But if she misses the bus connection leaving work, she’ll be standing there for an hour.

“To get home will be that much harder.”

TransLink said it held public consultation on the changes to several bus routes in Metro Vancouver last February.

Its 2014 Bus Service Optimization report shows results from consultation of other route cuts, but doesn’t mention any results of consultation done in Maple Ridge.

The C47 community shuttle is not mentioned in the report.

Maple Ridge is also not listed in the appendix of the report that shows advertisements taken out telling people of the proposed changes.

However, consultation usually doesn’t take place when only bus route frequencies or times are being changed, TransLink said by e-mail.

As a result, consultation didn’t take place in Maple Ridge because no route changes were planned.

“The decision about the routes will be communicated to the public in August in the same way all service optimization activities are communicated – through advertisements, media relations, social media, and on the website,” TransLink said.

O’Rourke said many vulnerable people rely on the routes to get to medical appointments.

“This just goes against encouraging people to drive less and take public transit instead.”

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