No changes planned in spite of bus petition

Almost 10 months after riders on the #7 bus from Duncan to Lake Cowichan raised objections to alterations in the route, no changes have been made to address their concerns and none will be coming.

"So what you have here is a frustrated bus rider," said Henry Landry of the Buddhist Nichiren Peace Centre, which is located on Johnny Bear Road, once serviced by the #7. The changes that went into effect last October turned the #7 6:35 p.m. bus into an express bus that takes Highway 18 instead of Cowichan Lake Road.

The route along Cowichan Lake Road includes stops at many intersecting roads along the way.

"There’s people that go to the library, there’s people that are working," Landry said in the fall. "It’s a pretty important route and we’d like to see it re-established."

To that end, Landry, along with help from fellow rider Rick Lobb, launched a petition, collecting about 350 signatures in support of changing the bus route back to how it was.

Landry also attended meetings at the Cowichan Valley Regional District, where he made presentations to officials.

He was told that BC Transit officials would consider the matter, after conducting consultations. BC Transit conducted on-board and online customer surveys in late February and early March of this year. There were 298 responses.

Landry said all these months later all he sees is a waste of taxpayer dollars, a bureaucracy that doesn’t want to admit it made a mistake, and no changes coming to correct the error. Action will not be forthcoming, BC Transit confirmed. "At this time, there are no further changes planned," said John Barry, manager of corporate and online communications in an email. "Any potential changes to routes or trip times would need to be cost-neutral, and subject to available funding. BC Transit will continue to consult with the CVRD on these considerations."

BC Transit and the Cowichan Valley Regional District did acknowledge that survey respondents did indicate a preference for some changes, including the #7 route.

"Early results show a need to consider improving the weekend trip times/frequencies on Routes 8 and 9, but further investigation is required to see if this is feasible and whether Route 7 trip times at the end of the day Monday to Thursday can be reconfigured to service the old road (via Gibbins) later at night," A report from the Facility, Fleet Transit Management Division Engineering Services Department states, though it goes on to say that no recommendations about service changes are being made at this time due to cost concerns.

Landry remains convinced the change he and the petitioners are seeking would take only a tweak or two to the schedule, not wholesale changes that would be difficult for BC Transit. The whole thing is an example of "government for the government by the government", he said.

"This would have been so easy to fix and they just made a big bureaucratic mess," Landry said.

People haven’t forgotten about it and still want to see action.

"I still get people stopping me at London Drugs and Superstore asking me ‘are the changes coming?’," he said.