Trying to resolve Similkameen transportation issues

Subject: Shuttle bus service in the Similkameen is easy to criticize, hard to find solutions

To the Editor:

Subject: Shuttle bus service

It is easy to criticize, but more difficult at times is to find positive solutions to problems.

I moved from Penticton to the Upper Similkameen Region about nine years ago. Unfortunately for me, only to face various health problems; and, even though I love the area for its natural beauty, access to services has been a challenge. Several doctors came and went, and with them continuity with my medical file. We also lack specialists in the region, I suspect an issue for many rural communities in B.C. All that said I find myself having to travel on a regular basis to Penticton for the medical attention needed. In addition, we have no public transportation in the region either, and that is why we love the service provided by our local shuttle bus.

For myself, as many other middle aged women living with a limited income, seniors, handicapped people and all others, the bus is an essential service. Regrettably the bus left me waiting again today and I was forced to postpone two of my medical appointments. These were very imperative visits to specialists. I was so terribly disappointed; it was the third time it has happened. As a result, Teresa, from Community Services and I had a long conversation over the phone as to how to avoid this from happening in the future. (One of my appointments was with an optometrist who I must see since I am experiencing many difficulties with my eyesight).

As a former social worker, I am aware how challenging it can be when dealing with the needs of many – in this case, medical practitioners and counsellors, bus drivers, central office intake workers, and all of us who use the bus on a regular basis. But if we maintain ourselves positive I am sure we can all contribute to a better bus service. As Teresa suggested, booking way in advance helps; booking appointments from 10 a.m. on in Penticton, helps dealing with delays when the bus has costumers to be picked-up in Cawston – for example. From my end of things, I would like to say that it would be helpful to have the driver possibly honk if we are not right outside our doors waiting for the bus.

Specially in winter, it is hard to wait for over half an hour when it is cold and the driver does not want to knock on people’s door. Not all of us have the benefit of waiting in a lobby as the people being picked up from the Keremeos senior’s facility. Also, contrary to what people might assume, there has been no consistency with the pick-up times. One driver told me 8:30 at your door in Hedley, another 8:20 yet another times (and this I just found out) pick-up is at 7:30 in Hedley. Hard to keep track when we are not provided with a written and/or set schedule. We all know how difficult it as well the fact that we have service only until 1 p.m. or so. This schedule often allows for only one appointment per visit to Penticton. There is no time for two if we calculate delays, waiting time to see the doctor, and possibly a visit to the pharmacy.

Anyhow, I am not a funding specialist, but if there’s anything we can do to advocate for money for a better service I would be the first to volunteer to write a letter to our local representatives. And believe me, at my local OAPO the subject has come up. We do need this essential service. I, like many others, would like to help to make it better. I am also more than willing to assume my errors if any, but for the past three times the bus missed picking me up I was waiting at home with my boots and coat on for more than an hour. I only moved away from my window for a few minutes at a time. If the driver would have honk I would most certainly have heard it.


Marcela deToro-Garland, Hedley



Keremeos Review