On Monday (Oct. 22), some of Squamish's bus routes will shift.
The series of changes to the transit system come after a service effectiveness review and public consultation conducted by B.C. Transit and the District of Squamish. They're part of an effort to increase ridership by 6,100 people per year, municipal officials stated in a press release. Last year, Squamish residents took 202,558 transit bus trips.
“The public consultation process highlighted the appetite for smaller improvements layered onto the existing system, versus large-scale changes to routing and service design,” Mayor Rob Kirkham said.
The alterations align B.C. Transit bus schedules with school bell times, the release noted. Public bus trips to Quest University will be double from four runs per day to eight.
Two Valleycliffe and downtown routes are being altered to improve directness and reliability by easing the system's schedule, the release stated. A pilot re-route of the Highlands bus around Skyline Drive is also being put in place.
While district staff acknowledge some transit users may be inconvenienced by the changes, the boarder benefits are clear, Kirkham stated.
“These changes will have an immediate positive impact, improving transit service to the greatest number of existing and potential users,” he said.
B.C. Transit and the district are introducing the Hop sur la Bus initiative, a program aimed at accommodating Squamish's French Immersion students. Next month — on Nov. 6 for Valleycliffe, Nov. 7 for Garibaldi Highlands and Nov. 8 for Brackendale — district staff will ride the bus with students to explain the schedule.
B.C. Transit is gauging seniors' interest in a “social shuttle” that would offer rides during non-peak hours. The shuttle would pick up registered handyDART riders at their care homes and take them to shopping and recreation destinations. Those interested in such a service are asked to alert handyDART operators, sign up at the Seniors' Health Fair on Oct. 31 or contact the district.
In November, seniors can purchase two for one cash fares on Tuesdays. BC Transit's fleet is accessible by wheelchairs and scooters, district spokesperson Christina Moore stated in an email.
Next year, the municipality and B.C. Transit will examine additional Sunday and statutory holiday service, evening runs and an increased bus frequency.