Bus schedule changes

Health care access drives bus timetable change for Mt. Waddington.

PORT McNEILL—Access to health care was a major driver in creation of the Mount Waddington Transit System in 2008. Beginning this week, that access regains priority status.

BC Transit and the Regional District of Mount Waddington announced last week a schedule change that will provide more bus routes that travel via Port McNeill Hospital, on Kingcome Place, and also via Port McNeill Medical Clinic on McNeill Road.

The new schedule, which went into effect Oct. 1, also sychronizes early morning routes with the Tri-Island Ferry and changes out an unused route through Port McNeill with one that will take more riders near their homes.

“When the bus came from Port Hardy into Port McNeill, it went straight down Campbell Way and to the ferry terminal,” said Liette Patterson, transit director for the RDMW. “Now it will go on Kingcome (Pl.), Haddington (Cres.), Cedar (St.), Broughton (Blvd.) and then on to the terminal.

“It’s not a big change, but it’ll be huge for residents there in bad weather.”

The bigger change is the one that will the No. 1 route (Port McNeill) and the No. 2 (Port Hardy) both past Port McNeill Hospital. Route No. 12 (Port McNeill local) has been amended to include a stop at Port McNeill Medical Clinic.

The requested changes to the scheduled were forwarded to BC Transit by the Regional District’s Transportation Committee, which had worked on the revisions since January.

“Our last schedule change was in August of 2010,” said Patterson. “I think what happened with the last change, people weren’t using certain routes, but since then, with the impacts of the doctor shortage in Port Hardy, more people from Port Hardy are coming here and they weren’t able to get a ride to the clinic.

“We were also having issues where, when the ferry was delayed, people were missing their bus from the terminal to Port Hardy.”

The changes in the ferry terminal pickup will impact only morning routes. By 11 a.m., Patterson said, the schedule will be aligned with its current times, by reducing the time of a driver’s break that is built into the run.

And those caught unaware of the change won’t find they’ve missed a bus if they arrive at their usual stop at the normal time. The change shifts the morning schedule slightly later, not earlier.

Mount Waddington Transit was established in 2008 with the aid of a grant from Vancouver Island Health Authority. It is funded partly by BC Transit and partly through user fees and an RDMW subsidy.

The system, which saw a 6.4 per cent increase in ridership over the past year, serves Port Hardy and Port McNeill, as well as Coal Harbour, Storey’s Beach and the Hyde Creek/Nimpkish Heights region south of Port McNeill.

On Dec. 1 it will resume its seasonal weekend run to Woss and Mount Cain Ski Area.

For info on routes and tickets, visit www.bctransit.com/regions/mtw.