Bayers Lake bus route change angers rider

Some transit users who take the #52 bus through Bayers Lake Business Park are frustrated with the changes made to the popular bus route.
Mary MacDonald, who uses a wheelchair, says it's a huge inconvenience that the No.52 bus no longer cuts through the main parking lot of the shops in Bayers Lake Business Park. (CBC)

Some transit users who take the No.52 bus through Bayers Lake Business Park are frustrated with changes being made to the popular bus route, which no longer goes across the business centre's main parking lot.

Mary MacDonald, who uses a wheelchair, says she takes the bus to go shopping at Bayers Lake on a regular basis and used to get dropped off at one of four stops in the parking lot.

But the No.52 now only stops on Chain Lake Drive, which she says is making her commute more challenging.

She said she has to completely reassess the situation to figure out how she'll get around.

"I don't know if the bus stop down there is wheelchair accessible. I'd have to check that out," she said.

The changes came about because the No.52, which is a long route servicing every terminal in the city, was perpetually late, according to Metro Transit.

The bus constantly had to navigate through a busy parking lot full of speed bumps and as a result, suffered from what Metro Transit spokeswoman Lori Patterson calls "schedule adherence issues".

"It is something we're trying to address longer term. It's something we hear about from our passengers, and as the region has grown with traffic," said Patterson.

Patterson says it's also because the buses made the parking lot unsafe for pedestrians.

But MacDonald says the area is already a nightmare for people with limited mobility.

Some of the bus stops along Chain Lake Drive don't have sidewalks and there are no sidewalks from the busy street to the stores.

A bus rider now has to cross big, busy parking lots to get to the shopping area and pedestrians have to navigate intersections across four lanes of traffic without crosswalks.

"I thought immediately that people's lives are going to be put in danger. It's reckless," MacDonald said.

Snowbanks may make bus access even more difficult this winter along Chain Lake Drive and the parking lots.

"It's going to be extremely dangerous if not impossible to come here during the winter months," she said.

She said she worries not only about herself, but about elderly people who also have a hard time getting around.
There aren't any sidewalks to get from Chain Lake Drive to the main shopping area, which houses the theatre as well as retail outlets and a grocery store. (CBC)

Metro Transit says the area was not designed with pedestrians in mind.

"But that is something that is bigger than Metro Transit," Patterson said. "We're operating on the roadway and that's a property issue and an infrastructure issue in terms of sidewalks."

She says 10 years ago they made an exception to allow the bus to stop inside the shopping centre.

And since the route changed on Nov. 21, Patterson says there have been few complaints.