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Seniors' guide to North Shore public transportation
If you’re able to drive, getting around the North Shore is relatively easy.
But seniors who don’t drive must find other ways to get from A to B. Transit routes serve some areas of the North Shore especially well and there are improvements on the way. Seniors can also take advantage of a number of shuttle services run by community organizations.
According to a 2011 TransLink report, the majority of transit trips from the North Shore are headed to Vancouver.
More and more, however, transit users are staying on the North Shore for work, shopping and services. The report concludes that demand for transit on the North Shore will increase due to a number of factors, including the increasing development of core North Shore areas as well as the growing number of seniors. In a follow-up report, TransLink predicts that by 2040 major bus routes will be within walking distance of up to 65 per cent of North Shore residences and workplaces — up from the present estimated 40 per cent.
In consultation with the community, TransLink has added and modified a number of bus routes. In an email, Sany Zein, TansLink’s director of infrastructure and network management, describes several changes to North Shore bus service as of December 2013.
“We’ve introduced a new community shuttle, 227, which operates between Lynn Valley Centre and Phibbs Exchange via Lynn Canyon Park… Additionally, we’ve modified our 229 Lonsdale Quay/Lynn Valley route to now end at Lynn Valley Centre where the new 227 begins.”
Currently, TransLink is looking at a proposed two-way shuttle between Dundarave and Park Royal as well as improvements to Phibbs Exchange. Zein points out that additional information about new routes and changes to existing ones can be found at the “Transit Service Changes” page on TransLink’s website, translink.ca.
Seniors who no longer have the ability to use regular transit have a number of alternate options for getting around.
The small blue, yellow and white HandiDART buses, operated by TransLink , accommodate wheelchairs and offer door-to-door service. To qualify for the service, passengers must complete an application, a section of which is to be filled out by a physician. Applications are available on the TransLink website or by request at 604-575-6600.
HanyiDART can be booked for regular trips or on an as-needed basis. The cost of a trip is the same as a full adult fare on regular public transit and is determined by the number of zones travelled. Those who qualify for a HandyCard can purchase a $25 book of Taxi Saver Coupons, which will cover $50 worth of taxi rides. To purchase tickets contact the Access Transit office at 778-452-2860.
Recently there’s been much discussion on TransLink’s new Compass card. Already being used by 80,000 passengers, it’s set to be in use by the general ridership some time this summer.
One of the concerns about the new Compass cards is the “tapping in” and “tapping out” riders will need to do as they enter and exit the vehicles. TransLink representatives are confident that after an initial adjustment period, passengers will find the system easy to use – as do commuters in other cities where the system is in place.
The Compass card works very much like a reusable gift card that can be reloaded with either the cost of a monthly pass or with a stored value of up to $175, which will be used in place of the current FareCards for those who make occasional trips. Once the value on the Compass card has been spent it can be reloaded online, by phone or at Compass Card vending machines.
TransLink is not the only option for seniors travelling on the North Shore. Those who need a lift for grocery shopping or just to get out into the community can choose from several North Shore shuttle buses operated by non-profit organizations. Many of the following shuttles are very low cost or free, but donations are appreciated:
- Parkgate Access Bus, 604-983-6376, takes seniors in the Seymour area from their homes to a shopping location and back every Friday.
- Capilano Community Services Seniors Hub, 604-988-7115, operates the “Doris Too” shuttle bus for their members. The bus takes passengers to scheduled social events as well as regular trips to North Shore Malls and grocery stores, with stops for coffee. Volunteer assistance can be arranged if necessary. Members can also book transportation to medical appointments with at least two days notice.
- Silver Harbour Go Bus, 778-230-1852, provides door-to-door service for seniors who are unable to use other types of transportation. It runs Monday to Wednesday, taking passengers to shopping, seniors’ centres, grocery stores, pharmacies and other North Shore destinations.
- The Seniors’ Shuttle Bus operates out of the West Vancouver Seniors Activity Centre with routes in Ambleside and Dundarave. It runs Monday to Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. To board the bus, seniors simply flag it down at any point along its route. Passengers are asked for a donation $2 per ride. Contact the centre at 604-925-7280 or visit their website westvancouver.ca/seniors.
A number of non-profit organizations offer transportation to medical appointments, for free or by donation, most of which must be booked at least two days in advance:
- The North Shore Neighbourhood House Medical Rides Program, 604-982-8325. Passengers must have a referral from Vancouver Coastal Health.
- The Canadian Cancer Society, 604-215-5462. Transportation for cancer patients to hospital or cancer clinics.
West Vancouver seniors can contact Special Services Society, 604-925-7281, for destinations on the North Shore. Trips must be booked at least two days in advance.
Private transportation services can be more costly but may provide more flexibility. To find out about companies serving the North Shore —both private and non-profit—call Seniors’ One-Stop at 604-983-3303 or 604-925-7474. Visit them in the Capilano Mall, Suite 201, 935 Marine Dr.
The newly established Better at Home Program, 604-985-7138, run out of North Shore Community Resources, is presently looking into providing additional transportation services in the community. Call them or Senior’s One-Stop for an update.
Another good source of information is the Seniors Directory published by the North Shore Outlook and North Shore Community Resources. It not only contains a complete list of transportation services but includes many other resources and services for seniors. Look for the 2014 edition, due out in February, at the North Shore Outlook office, North Shore Community Resources and North Shore libraries and community centres.
JOSIE PADRO, contributor