TransLink is using the North Shore to test a new model of shuttle bus intended to make loading and unloading much easier for passengers with mobility challenges.
Since Labour Day, there have been five “low-floor” shuttles serving the C12 Lions Bay/Caulfeild and the 251 Queens/Park Royal routes.
The main door to the new shuttle has a ramp that extends out, making it easier for people with walkers or wheelchairs to get on board. If someone is unable to board using the steps on the existing community shuttles, they have to use a mechanical lift at the rear door.
TransLink chose the North Shore routes to do its due diligence in part because of the demographics here.
“These shuttles serve areas where there are lots of seniors or people with mobility challenges. Some feedback we’ve heard is that the shuttles we use now can be cumbersome at times,” said TransLink spokesman Chris Bryan.
Passengers on those routes will probably also notice the seats are more comfortable, larger windows and more space in the interior. The have capacity for 20 people sitting, plus two wheelchairs.
Low-floor shuttles are used elsewhere in North America but it would be the first time they’ve been included in TransLink fleet. Many of the shuttles are due to be retired in the coming years, and the transit authority is looking to swap them out for these low-floor models – pending good results from the test ongoing now.
“Every community is different. Every community has different needs. We just want to test this out fully and listen to the feedback we get from our customers and the operators as well as our maintenance staff,” Bryan said.
So far, though, the feedback has been good. “It feels like a safer, more expedient way to get on the bus,” Bryan said.
TransLink is looking to add another nine next year and possibly another 49 in 2019.