By Meagan Pecjak
Safety trumps timing when it comes to Belleville Transit bus drivers and stormy weather.
The snow and ice is slowing down all public drivers as well as the bus drivers with the Belleville transit system. That means that students have to stand out in the ice-cold winds and endure the snow.
First-year radio broadcasting student Heather Armstrong said she doesn’t enjoy waiting for the bus, especially in the snow.
“I don’t like it, but I have to. I have to get to school. There really isn’t another way to get to school when you don’t have a car,” she said.
Peter Hodgson, manager of transit services for Belleville Transit, said he believes the slowdown is really “more about the other traffic being unsafe.”
The true reason for the buses being behind schedule is really the traffic flow, as well as how safe the driver feels, Hodgson added.
“We leave it up to the operators to let us know” whether or not they will be running on schedule, or whether they will be able to make the route or not, he said. There will often only be one Loyalist bus, rather than the usual two because one of them will be so behind schedule.
“We stop running when (other) people have trouble on the hills,” said Hodgson. Unless there is a major snowfall overnight, the buses “just keep operating.”
Tammy Livingston is the customer service representative for Belleville transit. She said the buses will be a tad behind but they will do whatever they can to keep on schedule.
“It is rare that we cancel,” said Livingston, concerning the cancellation of public transit. The situation has to be both “dangerous for both the driver and the passenger.”
Hodgson said that if he had to give the bus drivers a piece of advice it would be “making the trip is more important than making it on time.”
Armstrong said that the bus drivers are friendly, and she doesn’t feel unsafe while taking the bus in bad weather conditions.
However, Armstrong said that all in all she has no problems with the bus system. “I actually enjoy taking the bus.”
Students say they will often be waiting at a bus stop for 15 to 30 minutes. Standing in the cold wind can cause students to be discouraged, and rethink using the transit system, they say.
“It’s cold outside, so I don’t want to stand and wait for the bus,” said Devin Bellinger, a second-year radio broadcasting student.
Bellinger also said the shelter at the college is “small and usually cramped” and that it would help if they were larger, and there were more of them.
Armstrong said she believes “they should put shelters everywhere. At every bus stop, there should be one.”
The number of shelters along the bus route is out of Belleville Transit’s hands.
Livingston said that when it comes to the shelters they would be required to “take it to council.”
Hodgson said “we’ve had shelters in the past. The problem is vandalism.” He found shelters were being vandalized to the point that officials just decided to take them down.
The shelters tend to be in places where there is more traffic.
“We don’t own the shelters,” said Livingston. “There are really only four shelters that the transit owns.” In order to get more, Belleville Transit would be required to take the issue to council. At that point, said Hodgson, it becomes a budget item.