Bus shelter for Harrison

Village applies for funding to cover half the cost of a covered bus stop

Bus riders take heart as you wait in the heat for the next bus. Harrison Hot Springs hopes to keep you shaded and dry with a bus shelter in the near future.

The Village Council agreed to apply to BC Transit for a program that covers partial funding for a bus shelter.

Through the program, the Village would cover 53.3 per cent of the cost of the shelter, with the Province paying the remainder. If Council receives the funding, the shelter would be considered an asset of BC Transit, but maintenance, upkeep, safety and liability will be the responsibility of the Village.

Councillor Samantha Piper was all for it because it helps to get people out of their vehicles and using alternate modes of travel.

“It provides dignity to transit users by keeping them out of the elements,” she added.

While BC Transit has designated the corner of Esplanade Ave. and St. Alice Street as the main bus stop in Harrison, councillors questioned if that is truly the best location for a local stop.

“It caters to visitors in that location,” said Councillor John Hansen. “For residents, it’s in an out-of-way location.”

He suggested that near the new traffic light might be a more convenient stop for residents as well as central for visitors.

Lisa Grant, manager of development and community services, presented the report to Council. She explained it is BC Transit that identifies stops and locations.

“That being said, we can propose an alternative location,” said Grant.

If Council wanted to apply for a bus shelter to be at a separate location, they would have to make that request to BC Transit, as well as with the Ministry of Transportation for highway locations. She suggested that Council could look at phasing in a few bus shelters over the coming years, or apply for a change now but, by doing so, they may miss this funding opportunity.

Hansen said it is important to open a dialogue with BC Transit on the location of the bus stop.

“We’re better in tune of what the needs of the community are than BC Transit,” he commented.

Interestingly, Mayor Leo Facio and several councillors commented on the fact that bus drivers make a circuitous route through Harrison, picking up bus riders along several unofficial stops.

“It’s fabulous they stop wherever you like in our community,” said Facio.

BC Transit confirmed with The Observer last Tuesday, explaining that Harrison is served by transit on Hot Springs Road inbound, and outbound along Eagle and McCombs Drive, “to provide the greatest transit coverage in the community,” according to Johann van Schaik, senior regional transit manager for BC Transit’s South Coast region. She says there are a total of four designated bus stops with bus signs in Harrison. On the other sections of the route, riders are served by “flag” stops.

“These are informal stops that are considered safe locations with good visibility where riders can flag the bus down,” explains van Schaik.

Facio suggested the Village apply for the funding and, if the bus stop location cannot be changed, that Council look for future funding opportunities for different bus stop locations down the road.

BC Transit shelters range in price, from a low of $9,800 to a high of $25,800 on the examples provided. Staff recommended a type of shelter that provides a back and cantilevered roof, with potential costs of between $10,300 and $15,200.

“Due to the proximity to the lake and the winds, a shelter with greater weather protection best suits our needs,” writes Grant in the staff report.

The 2015 Village budget includes $7,500 allocated towards upgrading the bus stop.