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Woman feels left out in the cold by Barrie Transit route changes

'It’s a critical thing to me to live on a bus route. I’m just so upset about it,' says Innisfil Street resident, who relies on transit to get to RVH for rehabilitation
Anne Hole says Barrie Transit network changes don't work for her.

Anne Hole finds herself at least one street too far from the bus she now has to take in Barrie.

The Innisfil Street woman’s bus route has been discontinued as part of Barrie Transit’s network redesign, which kicked in June 2.

Hole is disabled, does not drive and now must walk to Bradford Street or Anne Street, along Brock Street, to reach public transit that was almost right in front of her home, on both sides of the road, until recently.

“It’s not difficult when it’s great weather. I’m a slow walker, but it’s fine — it really doesn’t bother me,” she said. “But in the winter time, because they don’t plow the sidewalks properly in this city, it is extremely dangerous to walk on ice for me.

“I cannot fall and break my neck.”

Hole says she broke her neck in a car accident and needs to get to her rehabilitation, along with medical appointments at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) by transit.

This notice informs riders of Barrie Transit network changes on Innisfil Street. | Bob Bruton/BarrieToday

Brent Forsyth, the city’s director of transit and parking strategy, said the Innisfil Street route was cut for a basic reason.

“There is no longer service along Innisfil Street as ridership was extremely low,” he said. “However, coverage is maintained by multiple bus routes along Bradford Street, Anne Street and Tiffin Street that are within the service guidelines.”

Those service guidelines are a 300- to 500-metre walking distance to a bus stop.

City staff say Hole’s home is less than 250 metres from bus stops, which she disputes.

“Fair enough if there isn’t the ridership. There isn’t, and decisions have to be made,” said Hole. “But there’s no options being given, no consultation to talk to anyone.” 

The city says Hole does have other options with the Innisfil Street bus gone.

Barrie Transit’s specialized service, formerly BACTS, operates door-to-door for people unable to use Barrie Transit's conventional, accessible, fixed-route system, or regular service, due to a disability. 

The specialized service can be booked the same day, and up to seven days in advance, either by calling and speaking with a booking agent or it can also be booked through a self-serve online booking portal.

But Hole says that is not her experience with the specialized service.

“It’s not a jump-on, jump-off, same-day call and they’ll come. It does not work that way,” she said. “You do need to book seven days in advance. It’s a service for people who are extremely disabled.”

Hole said she’s seriously considering selling her Innisfil Street home and moving someplace where there is regular bus service.

“I’m going to have to, I don’t have a choice,” she said. “I need to be proactive. If I slip and fall and break my neck…

“It’s a critical thing to me to live on a bus route. I’m just so upset about it.”

Hole’s area is not within a Transit ON Demand zone.

Transit ON Demand is a Barrie Transit service without a fixed schedule or route. Users can book a trip through an app, online or by phone, and then the bus travel is optimized through a computer-based system. It operates within a specific zone allowing riders to travel from bus stop to bus stop within the zone, on demand.

Barrie Transit’s new network, which eliminated the Innisfil Street bus route, is being implemented in two phases. The first launched June 2, with the second is expected in 2025.

In addition to route changes in the first phase, there are what’s called express and frequent routes, and expanded Transit ON Demand, from one zone to five zones.

There is also New Express Route 400 between Park Place and Georgian College/RVH, on Highway 400, with 30-minute frequency operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

There’s also added service coverage on Hanmer Street, Lakeside Terrace and Amelia Street.