Shirley Simpson was one of many people pushing for BC Transit to add a bus stop at the new hospital.
When the new routes took effect on April 22, she made sure she was ready to get on-board to celebrate the event.
“I thought, I’m going to be on that first bus,” she told the Mirror on Monday afternoon.
BC Transit’s website includes the route maps for the new service, which show the hospital is on the No. 7 line, or Peterson Loop.
Simpson said that she and fellow seniors in the downtown had been left without proper access to the new hospital dating back to schedule changes in August 2017. Their complaints, she says, fell on deaf ears, and during last fall’s city council elections she was told the best way to effect change was to circulate a petition.
“So we did, and hit the bricks,” she said in a statement to the newspaper.
She and other seniors in the Seth Norton Wing, where she lives, started gathering names. They were able to get 1,600 signatures to ask for changes to the route and add a stop at the hospital, and in December the city issued a press release saying the changes she and fellow senior Carol Dawson had requested were being implemented.
“They knew something was happening, and they knew something had to be changed,” she said.
In a media advisory earlier this month, BC Transit said it and the City of Campbell River were making the system changes, adding approximately 240 service hours, to the No. 7 line as well as the No. 4 Campbellton line to address feedback from the community about service to Ironwood and the hospital.
Not everyone is pleased with the layout of the new routes, especially the schedule. When Morag Kruel saw the planned routes, she was fine with the inclusion of a hospital stop. However, she says the bus is only doing one side of the road now for the route, instead of both. Nor is she enthusiastic about the timing of trips, particularly as she generally needs to stop at the hospital only for a few minutes to drop off blood samples. With the schedule now, she has to wait two hours for the next one to come by the hospital for her return trip.
“We had both sides of the road to catch buses on, every half hour,” she told the Mirror. “Now we have only one side of the road.”
With the medication she had been on, she had been going sometimes daily but with changes to her prescription, she now typically goes a couple of times a week. She does qualify for discount rates on cab service because of her health but wishes the schedule had been set up with more frequent runs.
“That’s a two-hour wait, I can barely walk, so I’ve got to sit there and wait,” she said.
“You can’t do that to the ill, and you can’t do that to the sick people. You can’t just dump them and run, and not let them back on, and only go on one side of the road for them.”
Kruel contacted BC Transit on March 25 to express her concerns about service but did not hear back from the head office in Victoria. Instead, she made contact with someone locally a few days later and was told about the changes to be made in April.
Simpson agrees the new schedules still do not quite mesh and there are gaps between trips to the hospital. For now, she is happy the bus is making a stop at all, so that seniors downtown can at least be brought straight to the hospital, but she hopes BC Transit will continue to make changes to the scheduling to reduce the waits between trips in the future.
In response, BC Transit encourages anyone with feedback on service to contact the local transit office or use the feedback option on its website.
“As always, we will take the information into account when making future recommendations about service changes in the Campbell River Transit System,” BC Transit communications manager Jonathon Dyck said via email.