B.C. Transit drivers return to calling out stops on Victoria buses

Program touted as a welcome convenience by at least one regular rider

Before navigating his transit bus back into the flow of traffic in downtown Victoria, Gerry Leahy grabs a hand-held radio and calls out the next major stop for his passengers.

There hasn’t been a policy in place to call out major stops on transit routes in Greater Victoria since electric streetcars trundled through Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay, from the early 1890s to 1948.

In calling out stops, Leahy now has something else in common with his grandfather, who likely called out stops when he drove streetcars; as well as with his father, who started with the streetcar company and later drove buses.

“I think it’s a good experiment and idea, to see if we can help people get to their stops a little easier without letting one slip by them,” said Leahy, who last Friday celebrated his 25th anniversary with B.C. Transit.

The call-out initiative, unveiled the day before, was a suggestion from a number of riders that came in over Twitter two months ago.

“It’s about building that great connection between our drivers and their passengers,” said Meribeth Burton, B.C. Transit spokesperson. “We want the experience to be fun, convenient and pleasant.”

Dorothy Wapola, a Victoria resident who regularly takes the bus, said some seniors and people who are visually impaired may appreciate advance notice about a stop so they have time to get ready.

Visitors to the Garden City will also benefit.

“They’re going to ask anyway or sit there and look blank as they whiz pass the stop. I’ve seen them do that before,” Wapola said. “It’s going to be a help for them.”

Though riders can still request drivers to call out certain stops, bus operators will be required to call out major stops under the new program.

“There’s going to be a learning curve,” Burton said, adding that drivers are receiving safety training on delivering call-outs. “It’ll be a six-month process before it’s all in place.”

Drivers won’t be permitted to make a call-out over the radio while they are driving: steering with one hand is a no-no.

If they do need to make an announcement while the bus is moving, they will have to use good old-fashioned lung power to call out a stop.

Though other transit systems in larger Canadian cities employ automated systems to announce stops, those technologies come with a steep price tag, Burton said.

As the aging fleet of buses is replaced by new Nova buses, drivers will be able to use fixed microphones, she noted.

“We’re looking at the most cost-effective ways to keep lines of communication going.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Hey Amazon, the bid’s in the mail: Langford mayor

The City of Langford has officially submitted its bid to become the home of Amazon HQ2.

Art has become a lifestyle for local resident

Coast Collective’s latest exhibit celebrates all things late fall

Deadline looming for youth transitional housing

Province says funding for 10 units not available at this time

Greater Victoria Public Library announces new music streaming service

Victoria Conservatory of Music to perform at Langford Heritage Branch on Saturday

Rogue masseur arrested for sexual assault in Victoria

John Heintzelman, 65, is accused of assaulting a person at his former business, James Bay Massage

WATCH: Greater Victoria restaurant chain stepping up after employee struck by SUV

31-year-old Khushal Rana fighting for his life in Victoria hospital

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

Weekend hit list: Things to see and do in Greater Victoria

The Victoria Fall Home Expo returns, Rebels host the Cullen Cup, a gallery tour and more

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

West Shore Baha’is come together to join in world-wide celebrations

200th commemoration of the birth of Baha’u’llah this weekend

JOCK TALK: Canada’s national cycling team is at Bear Mountain this weekend

Your weekly round up of all things sports on the West Shore

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Salmon have arrived in Saanich

Two weeks ago, Dorothy Chambers, lead steward with Colquitz River fish fence,… Continue reading

Most Read