By Katherine Grant
Val Hales wants bus service in Grimsby and she isn’t waiting for someone else to take the bull by the horn.
“We are imprisoned here, no social life, no shopping, no movies,” said Hales.
The 72-year-old Grimsby resident doesn’t mince words when talking about the impact the loss of bus service is having on her life and those of her friends.
“I used to be able to board a bus every Saturday morning in downtown Grimsby for $13 or $14,” said Hales. “That would get me to Hamilton at 10:15 a.m. There was time to meet my friends, go shopping take in movie and make the 4:15 bus back.”
Hales has been a resident of Grimsby for about 18 years having moved here from Hamilton and is now considering moving back but wants to remain in Grimsby.
She has started a petition at the suggestion of MP Dean Allison’s office – and has been walking all over town gathering signatures and leaving copies of the petition in places where people can see it and sign it.
“There’s a lot of people who live here who don’t drive,” she said.
Coach Canada announced in October 2014, it would cease service connecting Hamilton through Niagara.
Last fall, John Crowley of Coach Canada said the expansion of GO Transit, which receives major government subsidies, pushed the company in this direction. GO has experimented with expanding its service into Niagara for years and has a bus connection at Casablanca Boulevard/QEW. Plans are in the works to expand GO’s service with both bus and rail, but no specific timetable has been established.
When she was able to catch a bus in downtown Grimsby, Hale didn’t have an issue but she can’t make her way all the way out to Casablanca to board a bus.
“I’m a single woman and I have no family here to help me,” said Hale.
Ridership on buses from Hamilton to Niagara Falls, from 2010 to 2013, dropped by about one-third. This was basically the same time span GO was experimenting with expanded service mainly in the summer.
Coach Canada was the only bus service making local stops in smaller municipalities throughout the Niagara
Hales is considering leaving town but she isn’t ready to pack it in just yet. She encourages residents to get involved and sign her petition. They are located at The Dutch Shop, the Grimsby Fire Department and Hodgins Pharmacy.