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Letter: 'Bus system changes will keep seniors prisoner in their homes'

Eleanor Ross is concerned about seniors' access to public transit this winter
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GuelphToday has received the following letter to the editor from a Guelphite who is concerned about seniors' access to public transit.

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The city of Guelph redesigned its bus system on Sept. 3, 2017. I first noticed this when the bus stop behind my building and three others beside it, disappeared.

The closest stop is now up a steep grade and down the road. This will be a real problem for the seniors who do not walk well but not even possible in the winter.

This got me looking at the changes and it is clear that making it easier for people who, for whatever reason, do not have a car was not part of the planning. The bus no longer goes into the WERC. The stop is now on Imperial Road, hundreds of meters away and in a high traffic area. Again walking to this stop is problematic today and simply not possible in winter for many people.

The bus no longer goes even close to the Grange Street seniors housing complex. The closest stop is on Elizabeth Street down a very steep hill, and then a long walk to the stop. These seniors have been effectively imprisoned in their home in the winter. The west, north and east ends of the city have had their coverage deduced.

All areas of the old parts of the city have suffered including the old university area. From Water Street to College Avenue and Gordon Street, to Edinburgh Road there is no service at all. City institutions such as the museum at John McCrea house have been abandoned as well as many city schools. All routes now run on major arterial roads to the end of the line, make a quick circle and then back.

The second phase of this plan will see traffic snarled all over the city. Multiple bus stops are being added to our main streets. Edinburgh Road, Speedvale Avenue, Woodlawn Road, Imperial Road and Wellington Street. Where stops used to be on side streets, they are now on the main roads.

Stops have been added in the middle of Wellington by the river. The traffic, heavy here at most times of day will now be regularly stopped for passenger pickup. The passengers will come from the areas that have no service any longer.

I have tried to contact the mayor and the manager of operations for the Transit system with no luck. Only Christine Billings was nice enough to follow up on my call to her.

I am very upset with these changes that really ignore the daily needs of the people who must rely on the bus to get around. The people who do not have a car and/or can not drive. The seniors, the disabled, people living on fixed incomes, the working poor and students of high schools. Clearly they were not asked where they need to go and where they start from.

Although 20-minute service is nice, if you have no other transportation then 30 minutes is better than nothing. I suspect that these changes were to accommodate an arbitrary timetable and any route/stop with less than a certain number of riders a day was canceled. This should not be a consideration.

We build bike lanes in areas of the city where maybe two or three people ride a bike. Most of these bike riders have a car at home. Bus riders have no car at home. This is their only option.

It should not matter how many people ride but that people need a way to get around and they need it close as not everybody is young and fit. These changes need to be massively redone in order to provide transportation to the people in our city who need it the most.

Thanks,

Eleanor Ross

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