Granite Manor residents upset about the elimination of the bus stop in front of their Morgan Street apartment block presented a 157-signature petition to Nelson council Monday evening in hopes of having the service restored.
The Fairview bus — which used to travel along Morgan and Douglas streets between downtown and major stops at L.V. Rogers and Selkirk College — was re-routed along Lakeside Drive to provide better service to the Chahko Mika Mall. The change was a surprise to many seniors at Granite Manor.
Lorna Marsh, who’s lived in the building for 30 years, told council that she once sat at the bus stop for at least half an hour before a passerby informed her of the route change. She had to borrow a phone to call for a taxi.
The nearest place for her to catch the bus is at the Kootenay Lake Hospital, which is serviced by the Uphill bus route. If she wanted to board a Fairview bus, she’d have to walk over to Cottonwood Street. Neither option is any use to a senior with mobility challenges.
“I’ve been taking a lot of taxis and the cost adds up fast,” she said. It costs about $8 to take a cab downtown from Granite Manor, while bus fair is only $2.
There is one special bus route that still runs along Morgan Street once in the morning and twice in the afternoon on school days to bring students to LVR, but it runs directly from downtown to the school without stopping.
Diana Cole asked council if it would be possible allow seniors to board on that bus.
“Often seniors need to go downtown to see their doctors as many as three times per week,” Cole explained. “Even if they could ride the bus one way and arrange their own ride back, it would help a lot. “
Cole added that her neighbours who had tried to book BC Transit’s Handy Dart to pick them up found it to be over crowded or inconvenient.
Councillor Donna Macdonald, who represents the city on the West Kootenay Transit Committee, assured the residents that BC Transit is working on a solution for them, but said it won’t involve bringing the regular Fairview bus route back to Morgan Street — at least not immediately.
Nelson’s three bus routes and the inter-city routes are designed to connect with each other downtown and a change to one route would impact the connectivity of the entire systems, Macdonald explained.
“We want to give all these new routes a chance for at least a year before we consider tweaking them.”
Instead BC Transit plans to add a few weekly “subscription trips” between Granite Manor and downtown to its regular Handy Dart schedule. A representative from BC Transit is coming to Nelson this week to talk to the seniors who live in the apartment building and find out when best to offer those trips.
“Hopefully having some regularity with the Handy Dart would allow you to book doctors appointments and other errants around that service,” Macdonald told the seniors.
She also said she would ask BC Transit about allowing seniors to board the bus going to LVR.