The residents in Golden have been feeling disconnected and cut off from friends, family and the world beyond their surroundings since the departure of Greyhound, the transportation service that used to be in the town.
Realizing this Tenato Strategy Inc. and Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) came together to conduct a research study to figure out whether a new bus service is needed in Golden as part of the application to the Passenger Transportation Board.
The survey results are showing a high demand for the new ground transportation for the residents of Golden, said Jacqueline Drew, chief executive officer, president and principal of Tenato Strategy Inc.
When asked how much they needed the service, on a scale of one to seven, with one being “I don’t care at all” and seven being “It’s critical for my life,” most of the participants rated it as over six out of seven.
Drew also mentioned while there have been shuttles and some buses in the town once or twice a week, residents see those as basically non-existent.
One of the biggest challenges since the departure of Greyhound is accessing medical help, Drew said. According to reports from various stakeholders, ambulances are sometimes being misused for ordinary transportation purposes, rather than for emergencies.
For specific medical requirements such as cardiology, cancer treatment, and imaging, people have to travel to Cranbrook, Kamloops, or Kelowna. It usually takes hours to see a doctor or get treatments like cancer care.
Some people are opting not to do it because they can’t afford the high costs of transportation, Drew said.
“Do you want to travel five hours, five days a week, or spend five hours going there and five hours coming back to get your radiation treatment? They are either passing away sooner than they should or they’re getting a mastectomy instead of the radiation. It’s demoralizing and difficult for the town.
People are also paying much higher prices because things are only available locally. They can’t reach some of the bigger box stores where they could get groceries at a lower price. It’s also harder for them to look for employment opportunities.”
With approximately two million annual visitors, Golden’s economy is largely based on tourism. Tourism is also negatively impacted by the poor transportation in the town, affecting its economy, Drew mentioned.
Safety concerns are also crucial, as around 20 participants revealed they resort to hitchhiking or cycling to neighbouring towns, which is a consequence of transportation inadequacies, Drew added.
In the survey, Cranbrook was the top city that people wanted to access the most, primarily because of its critical medical services, including diagnostic imaging and cancer treatment.
If the new bus service is approved and set to open, people could choose to get a bus pass, which will make bus travel cheaper for them.
Approximately 460 participants have completed the survey so far.
“We have received a lot of enthusiastic responses from Golden. Politicians, tourism officials, and employers in the area have all provided us with supportive letters.”
The submission of the application is expected during the mid-fall period, and the review and decision-making process by the Passenger Transportation Board could span several months.
You can participate in the survey https://forms.gle/prAsHiJ9L2c9XdCt7.