Residents of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton who want to see what transit services are available in the region — from the BC Transit community bus to commercial transit to volunteer drivers — can now get all the information in one place, thanks to a transit guide produced by the Ashcroft and Area Community Resources Society (CRS).
The society’s Esther Lang says that when the pandemic started in spring 2020, a local service sprang up to help those who were having difficulty picking up prescriptions, groceries, and mail.
“It was mainly for seniors who were quite vulnerable and those who were handicapped,” she says. Transportation was also offered to people trying to access various services locally and in Kamloops, and Lang says that the volunteers discovered there were some gaps in the transit services that were being offered.
“We realized it would be nice if we had something that indicated how people could go to their own doctor’s appointments in Kamloops, be more self-sufficient and independent.”
In addition to the BC Transit community bus that operates in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton, the group discovered other options. “I had no idea there was a tourism bus that came through from Prince george to Kamloops [Adventure Charters], or that the Health Connections bus from Lillooet stops here [in Cache Creek every Tuesday, and in Cache Creek and Ashcroft every Thursday].
“We found that health facilities in Kamloops are often quite accommodating with appointment dates and times if the client knows the bus schedule.”
There is also a Northern Health medical bus that runs from Prince George to Vancouver (with a stop in Cache Creek) every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. It returns from Vancouver to Prince George — again with a stop in Cache Creek — every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. In addition, Adventure Charters stops in Cache Creek on its runs from Prince George to Vancouver (Mondays and Thursdays) and on its return journeys (Tuesdays and Fridays).
“There are a lot of people who need transit in a variety of ways who can access some of these services if they can’t drive,” says Lang. “I think these bus companies are trying hard to cover the routes Greyhound might have covered.”
The guide also lists some private services that are available to help transport people, some of which are only available on certain days. Lang says that, as a last resource, volunteers from the CRS can be available to drive people.
“Many organizations have given up providing rides, because the don’t have enough people, or any people, to drive. We thought the CRS could offer this as a last resort for people trying to get to Kamloops on days when there’s no other transport.”
She adds that a lot of people who lack their own transportation have friends who have stepped up to fill the gap. “After COVID hit, a lot of people have been helping neighbours and friends. That’s great, but sometimes there’s a break in the chain.”
Although the guide has been produced by the CRS, Lang says that the committee that put it together had input from other people. She adds that the guide fits into the society’s mandate of identifying gaps in the community and then filling those gaps.
“We used to have some mental health workshops, and now the Elizabeth Fry society does that as part of their mandate. We did some financial things, and now Community Futures does that. We’re trying to fill in the gaps that no one else is filling. We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.
“We mostly do networking at our meetings, and try to find out what’s happening in the community and get a handle on what’s already provided, then find ways we can meet the needs of people who aren’t covered.”
The guide — a joint effort of the CRS, Ashcroft and District Lions, the E. Fry Society, Better at Home, The Equality Project, and Ramona’s Helping Hands — is available in printed format at a wide variety of local venues, including the village offices in Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Clinton; local libraries; the Ashcroft HUB and the Ashcroft Hospital; the Clinton Food Bank; the E. Fry Society; Better at Home; The Equality Project; the two Ashcroft thrift stores; Home Hardware; Junctions Coffee House; and at the BC Transit bus stop in Ashcroft (outside Rolgear). It can also be viewed and printed on a wide variety of community Facebook pages.
In addition to listing all the services available, the guide contains contact phone numbers for all of them. “A lot of seniors don’t have internet, so it was important to provide telephone numbers for people who couldn’t go to websites.
“We wanted to provide options for people whether they’re going north, south, east, or west.”
Even though the guide has only been available for a few days, Lang says it’s getting a good response.
“The feedback has been quite positive. People are saying that’s what’s needed. We’re getting good feedback from the drivers, and we’ve had feedback from all the places we’ve put the guide, and it’s all been good.”