Transit and municipalities must work to make bus stops more accessible

If the responsibility of bus stops lies with the municipality, why are some municipalities shortchanging bus commuters?

Not being a commuter and not having to rely upon BC Transit buses does not mean their operation escapes my attention. On those few occasions when I ride the bus, I use pre-purchased coupons (which now cost another $1 for seniors).

My personal contribution to the reduction in greenhouse gases is to walk to the grocery store for small purchases and to take the bus home, if I overbuy. This does not preclude the need of a car to make major purchases.

Thinking about the cycle of paying a carbon tax as part of gasoline purchase so as to pay for a bus system prompts the following questions: Where does the collected carbon tax money go? How does it finance each community transportation system?

So we are told by the federal Liberal government, the cycle is revenue neutral and that it is the responsibility of each Canadian province and territory to distribute funds to those initiatives that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Presumably this includes financial and other support of what it takes to run a bus service.

Within the BC Transit municipal systems program design guidelines for accessible bus stops: “The responsibility of bus stops, under the terms of the master operating agreement, lies with the municipality… The municipality should also enlist the assistance of the operating company (and the use of the accessible vehicle type(s) in question) to ensure that the requirements for the vehicles meets on-street operational needs.

“It is imperative that these guidelines not be used as hard and fast rules but serve as general design guidelines to be interpreted and adapted to site specific situations in each jurisdiction.”

In my bus travels within each of the municipalities of Greater Victoria I have noticed the disparity in condition and quality of bus stops. Many do not seem to meet the recommended minimum design guidelines. Apparently, in those instances it falls to the bus driver to alert passengers to the localized shortcomings of certain bus stops.

The guidelines state for example: “Caution is required, especially for passengers in scooters. Where no sidewalk or pad exists: The driver should advise the passenger in the wheelchair or scooter that caution is required in boarding the bus. The driver or attendant of the passenger should follow behind the passenger in the wheelchair or scooter and assist the passenger boarding the bus. These conditions should be communicated in advance to drivers and passengers.”

Just one more thing to include in every bus driver’s orientation session for every route to which they might be assigned.

If the responsibility of bus stops lies with the municipality,  why are some municipalities shortchanging bus commuters? Where is the carbon tax being applied (or misapplied)?

If BC Transit is so keen to encourage more ridership why is it not insisting that each municipality do the right thing and build the bus stops properly? They want you to get on the bus, but don’t seem to care how you get off the bus.

P.W. Bailey

Saanich