Delisa Woolls relies on the city bus to travel from downtown Trail to the Beaver Valley and beyond.
So the proposal for BC Transit to consider moving the main exchange on Cedar Avenue struck a nerve with Woolls and her acquaintances who live and work at the south end of town.
The group’s opposition to relocating the stop took form in a petition that Woolls recently submitted to the City of Trail.
She highlights the profound impact any change would have on her and at least 40 others living with physical challenges.
“Our place of residence, Jubilee Place, is an apartment building for seniors on low income,” she explained, adding 34 people live in the building and most don’t drive.
Several Jubilee Manor residents require walking aids, and two are in wheelchairs.
“Those of us who use walkers have physical impairments that affect our ability to walk, which therefore cause us to walk at a slower pace,” Woolls added. “Some of us also experience some pain and discomfort even though we use a walker.”
The petition also circulated next door to the manor at Alpha House and down the avenue at Career Development Services.
“They were interested in signing it too,” she said. “So it well represents our interests in being able to easily access the bus and keep it (the stop) where it is now.”
The Cedar Avenue exchange is located outside the old Eaton’s building (former Liquidation World). It’s the closest stop for Woolls and others to catch Trail Transit and head to the mall or transfer buses to surrounding communities.
If the main exchange was moved and distance extended, Woolls points out a longer walk may not be feasible for those who depend upon the service for travel.
“For some us, even though we do not use walkers, we still find it an effort to walk and some of us do use canes,” she said. “The further we walk with our walkers, the more discomfort, pain, and fatigue we experience.”
Lack of amenities, poor lighting, inadequate signage and scanty shelter are reasons local transit has long championed the idea of moving the main bus location elsewhere.
Improvements are limited because the aging Eaton’s building is privately owned, which impedes the opportunity to upgrade the property with signs and awnings.
Notably, talks about relocation are preliminary.
Additionally, the West Kootenay Transit Committee (WKTC) has yet to seriously engage with Trail, who must be a key member of the discussion as the city will ultimately have to agree to any change.
Though resolution is far down the line, the proposal is on the city’s radar.
Trail Mayor Mike Martin forwarded Woolls’ petition to the East End Services during the Jan. 12 regional meeting.
“It is very early on in the review process being undertaken by BC Transit to explore improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of public transportation services in the West Kootenay area,” Martin told the Trail Times.
He ensured community input would be brought forward and considered during deliberations between the regional committee and BC Transit.
“We appreciated getting this feedback from a valued community group who rely heavily on the transit service,” Martin said. “From what I have heard there is strong support with regard to improving the transit exchange area and in order to do that, the transit exchange may need to be relocated.”
Any suggested modifications or relocation of the transit exchange will involve Trail city council,” he reiterated.
“This early input to the process has been most valuable,” Martin added.
“In the meantime, we need to allow for BC Transit to undertake their work towards bringing alternatives to improving the efficiency of the transit service.”
During Friday’s downpour, Woolls sat next to an elderly lady on the one covered bench available at the downtown main exchange.
The two were unknown to each other, but after friendly salutation, conversation sparked.
“Then (she) mentioned how wet and miserable it was that day,” said Woolls. “I mentioned to her that I had just talked to the Trail Times and that one of the topics I talked about was the possibility of getting an awning put over the other benches.”
The banter about lack of shelter and possible solutions grew as two more women joined the impromptu session as they all waited for a bus in the rain.
“Let me say at this point, that I think BC Transit has overall a very good system in the whole area,” said Woolls. “We can get to almost anywhere in the area, even up to Nakusp, and for the most part we do not have to wait very long to transfer to another bus.”
Having extensively travelled the local routes, Woolls noted junctions and stops throughout the service where covered shelters are located.
“Maybe it would be possible for BC Transit to put up a couple of shelters like they have in Nelson, Castlegar and some other areas of Trail, Beaver Falls and Fruitvale,” Woolls suggested.
“We talked about the idea of the owners of the Eaton’s building, the City of Trail and BC Transit possibly sharing the cost of installing an awning or shelter,” she added.
“We also talked about the possibility of some kind of effort to be made to raise money from local businesses and others who would be willing to donate toward the installment of an awing or shelter. We agreed that there must be a way.