Comox Valley Transit buses won ‘t stop at new hospital entrance

If you’re planning on using the bus to get to the new hospital when it opens this fall, be prepared to walk a bit.

The Comox Valley Regional District has decided that having a large BC Transit bus traverse the hospital parking lot for drop-off and pick-up near the front door is a safety hazard.

Not only that, but travelling through a busy hospital parking lot will slow down the “frequent transit” buses planned for next year.

As a result, buses will stop on busy Lerwick Road instead.

Those with mobility issues such as the disabled and frail seniors will have to book the HandyDart service to be dropped off nearer the hospital’s front door.

None of that sat well with Courtenay director and mayor Larry Jangula.

He told the board’s committee of the whole Tuesday that “I think it’s a poor decision.”

Jangula said the initial plans for the new hospital included transit going through the parking lot.

“And you’re going to dump them on the road or across the road,” he said.

Comox councillor and director Ken Grant asked “what is the issue with going into the parking lot as it was originally planned. Why is that such a big problem?”

Ian Smith, regional district general manager of community services, said there’s a “potential conflict” with cars and pedestrians.

He said the transit buses would have to travel 200 metres through the parking lot in front of the hospital.

“I pointed that out … at the time. They indicated they wanted the bus in front of the hospital. To me it’s a safety issue. That’s my opinion,” Smith said.

But Jangula said “with all due respect, I can’t agree with that at all.

“It was planned by the hospital. A smaller bus would navigate through the hospital very easily,” he said, adding that having large buses stop on Lerwick, and taking up a lane, “is going to cause huge congestion and a big problem.”

Directors then started discussing whether there was room on Lerwick for a “pull off” lane to accommodate transit buses.

Smith said it was his understanding that there wasn’t any room on Lerwick for such a lane.

Courtenay councillor and director Erik Eriksson said there were bus stops on “hugely busy” Ryan Road and “we’re surviving that”. Disabled people, he said, can use the HandyDart program to get to and from the hospital.

In the end, regional district CAO Russell Dyson suggested trying the Lerwick Road transit stops for a year to see how they work.

Comox director Ken Grant suggested “it might be more acceptable to put them through the parking lot for a year and see how that works.”

“I kind of get both sides of this one … I don’t particularly like the idea of buses stopping on Lerwick,” he added.

Directors agreed to the one-year trial on Lerwick Road, but suggested talks continue with the City of Courtenay on the possibility of a pull-off lane.

Courtenay’s Jangula was the only director to vote against the Lerwick bus stops.

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