I meant to blog about this last week, but life kinda got me a bit distracted. I guess it’s better late than never, and it’s still not too late!
Guelph Transit is going through some changes, supposedly to make the service more efficient. But I honestly think they are forgetting some things along the way, namely that the bus isn’t just for able-bodied people. In fact, the bus can mean the difference between independence and being housebound for some.
One new change, which has already taken effect, is they have stopped driving into the St. Joseph’s Health Centre. They stop on an island, which is fun for someone getting off the bus in a wheelchair and coming down that big ol’ ramp onto an island of limited space, and people must cross over to the centre at a point where there is no light or stop sign. Cars are not expecting to slow down for pedestrians, much less potentially slow-moving ones like the ones who would be visiting a physio and rehab facility.
To make things even more fun, if you have a visual impairment, it’s scary as hell trying to cross there because you know there’s nothing telling cars to stop. You know what I’ve said before about never j-walking. This is basically j-walking. Your only choices are to take life into your own hands there, or to walk waaay up to one of the lighted intersections at either end of Westmount and backtrack. This has the potential to be really dangerous in the winter.
When Guelph Transit was approached in this news article, they said they did this to cut 3-5 minutes off the route so people could make their transfers downtown, and offered two alternatives: one being the new community bus, and one being taking Mobility Bus.
There are several problems with this. For one, the community bus only runs during the day. There are evening programs that occur at the health centre. So, if you attend one of those, you’re cut down to Mobility Bus, which the way I understand it, needs oodles of time to be booked, and if for whatever reason doesn’t come, then you’re kind of screwed. And I’m not speaking in what if’s. It does happen.
But this isn’t the only new change that scares me about these routes. The Guelph Transit growth strategy apparently recommended removing a bus stop outside a building full of senior citizens with disabilities. Thankfully, I think that one’s been reinstated, but now I hear another building full of seniors has seen their bus stop yoinked. That one I don’t know if it’s true or not. These people are the ones who need easy access to bus stops. They need it in the summer just because some of them cannot walk far, and they especially need it in the winter when the snow conditions can be treacherous and snow removal becomes more and more iffy as you journey further from downtown. If they are forced to use Community Bus as their only option, if they’re even on its route, their access to transit is reduced to one bus an hour instead of the one bus every 15-30 minutes that everyone else is getting. If they don’t get that, they’re reduced to scheduling their trips through Mobility every time they want to do anything. Somehow I don’t think they would view this new strategy as providing them with more options, and that was what was promised. I attended a public meeting or two.
So, if this change in bus stop effects you, please please please speak up. They say they need feedback, let’s give it to ’em. Email fred(dot)gerrior(at)guelph.ca and CC Leanne(dot)Warren(at)guelph.ca and let them know you’re feelings. The symbols have been removed so these people won’t be spammed, so put them back in when sending emails. Otherwise noone will get any feedback. Hell, if you think it would be effective, email whoever is on council who represents your ward. here’s how to find your councilors. If it matters to you, please speak.