Might Burlington lead in the transit service it provides its growing seniors population?

By Pepper Parr

February 23, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

The process Burlington Transit is going through as they rationalize their routes and look for more efficient ways to serve the needs of those who choose to use transit and those who have no choice got me to thinking longer term.

Stay with me on this.

Students or first time drivers have to go through a graduated license process and don’t get to drive on the 400 series highways the moment they pass their first test.

Will Burlington choose to be a leader in transit for seniors?It will not be too long before rules like that are going to apply to seniors.  I personally find that my eyes don’t work the way they used to in the dark of night and my reflexes aren’t as sharp as they were when I was 25.

I frequently find myself driving behind a senior who gives the word cautious a whole new meaning. There is timidness to older drivers and once there are more of them on the road – and that day is not far off – traffic is going to move slower.

Between older people driving slowly and young people believing they can text and drive, the roads in town will become hazardous places.  But that is not my point.

We will need buses that can carry dozens of people with walkers – because they won’t be driving.

I believe there will come a time when the province will require doctors to report any patient whose responses are such that they perhaps should not drive at night.  Many of you  know of adults who have had to go through the difficult process of telling Dad that he has to give up the keys to the car and not renew his driver’s license.

What do those seniors do then?  Are they to be land locked in their homes – because they aren’t going very far with the service Burlington Transit offers?

It doesn’t require a degree in rocket science to figure out how many seniors we have and where they live – the federal census data will give you that information.  We already know in large numbers how many seniors we have and which postal code they live in.

We know where the libraries are, where the food stores are and where the hospital is.  If we know the ages of the people in this city, and we know where they live and where they will most likely want to go – then we can begin thinking about what kind of transit we are going to need to move these people around.

That is the kind of long term thinking a city council should be doing.  I have watched and listened to council members discuss how many people were on a particular bus route at a specific time – none of their business – that’s what the transit people do. 

Council’s job is to think today and plan for tomorrow on how the city is going to meet the transit needs of all the seniors that we are going to have living in the best medium size city in the country.

Specialized buses will be needed and it will take longer to load passengers.

When the capital budget for the next 10 year is drawn up there should be funds set aside to buy the kinds of busses the seniors will need.  We need to begin putting money into that reserve find now and doing some early education work as well.

Perhaps we will see a Staff Direction to this effect sometime soon?

Will Burlington lead in the transit service it provides its seniors?

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3 comments to Might Burlington lead in the transit service it provides its growing seniors population?

  • Laurinda Shire

    There is a seniors special route, I think it’s the 300. I think the city’s coming along with transportation. And I think that there should be license suspensions for distracted driving.

  • Joan Turbitt

    I believe Burlington could lead in transit but up to now for the past 56 years it has been abysmall. I agree with you Penny as I have written on these issues before. Existing seniors have written, emailed telephone, attended in person all sorts of transit meetings to No avail. It seems transit and council is hell bent on providing little or No if possible transit whatsoever never mind special services for seniors. Best example of that is the cancellation of the taxi scrip program because they said that now that city busses were accessible all seniors and disabled persons could take the public bus. What hogwash and not a medical doctor among them. We have seniors with and without actually disabilities of every age group from 60 – 100 who require getting out of their homes for a plethora of reasons I should not have to spell out. One must notify the handi van one week in advance. To have to notify any time in advance is an inconvenience and obstruction of freedom to move about. In addition to no benches Penny, we have no public telephones, water access, mail boxes, or much of anything to purchase down town and I am sorry but No Frills does not have enough diversity of product. With no way to leave home and return except handi van we are limited in what we can purchase because you can only bring what you can carry as the driver and rightfully so cannot carry in groceries for all passenger and leave others on the bus. I have heard stories of 90 yr old woman who could not get groceries and I cannot find out who it is.
    I am sure she is not the only one. I have suggestions but they are not listened to. A number of us wrote letters, and presented depositions at council and phoned and filled out surveys and spoke to our councillors but were ignored out right. One councillor in particular raised such a fuss he had a bus re routed off his street as it bothered him, never mind all of the people who depended on it for decades. Your point that boomers will not put up with it is well made and I hope true, but bear in my the previous groups of seniors are smaller in number and therefore seen as easy to dismiss. I can’t wait to see you all get on board.

  • Penny Hersh

    This article really hit home. Last week I sent Marianne Meed-Ward an email talking about the same issue. Will the City be ready with the boomers coming on board in the next few years?Today many seniors, mostly women, who are on fixed incomes with no car have limited ways of going grocery shopping, especially in a City where the streets are not shovelled properly and they cannot take a grocery buggy with them, when they take public transit.

    The “grocery bus” that operates by Burlington Transit and takes seniors to No Frills only works if you live in a very small – basically one large block area near the store. The new Community Bus does not operate every day- and once again does not help any one living in the core.

    For the last 8 years I have heard about ” a shuttle” that would go up and down Brant Street so that seniors could get on and off and do their shopping…..The “best midsize city” does not seem to be able to provide basic services to help the residents that need it most.

    A few years ago i tried to get the City to put a few more benches along Brant Street which would allow some of the seniors living in the area a place to sit and rest while they walk to do their shopping etc. I asked about this again about 6 months ago and was told “the City was doing a Bench Inventory” – what kind of nonsense is this…..why don’t they simply say the City is not prepared to spend the money to provide a few benches for Seniors.

    The baby boomers are a different breed. They will not put up with some of the nonsense that the older seniors accepted from the City….the Status Quo is about to change….I hope the City is ready….

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