Burnaby North Liberal MLA Richard Lee is calling for TransLink to keep the community shuttle service as is in The Heights neighbourhood.
TransLink is considering changing and combining the two neighbourhood routes, to be serviced by one shuttle instead of two, extending service along Hastings Street east to Kensington Square. Weekday service along the new route would decrease from every 30 minutes to every hour.
But Lee said the current level of service should be maintained or even expanded.
"I've always supported the shuttle service," he said, adding he remembers when there were big buses driving around with no people on them, more than a decade ago, and the shuttles were brought in to address the problem.
"It's a shock to me," he added about the proposed changes. "We encourage people to use public transit but don't support the convenience."
The new route would be particularly difficult for seniors, who would have to transfer to a bus to continue west along Hastings Street, he pointed out.
And the current schedule isn't convenient for students at Alpha Secondary, who use the shuttle to get to school, he added.
"We recommend students walk or take transit," Lee said, noting schools in the neighbourhood often deal with a lot of traffic congestion. "I would like them to enhance the service."
Lee met with the Heights Merchants' Association and TransLink in December to discuss the issue.
"I think they are listening," he said.
But maintaining or expanding service depends on ridership levels, Lee pointed out, so the key is finding a way to get more people to use the shuttles.
Last week, he sent a letter to TransLink stating his concerns.
"For many Burnaby North residents, getting from home to a main transit route is a challenge - some live as many as 12 blocks from the bus line," he wrote. "The challenge affects all ages, from students to the more than 2,000 seniors living in the area."
Lee noted in his letter that the route changes would make it more difficult for Heights shoppers to get around.
"Any change to the service would hurt local families and businesses," he said.
As of Wednesday, he had not received a response from TransLink.
Lee also made a statement about the importance of community shuttles in the legislature on Wednesday.
Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart met with the residents of Seton Villa, a seniors' highrise, to discuss their concerns about the proposed changes last month.
Many of the stakeholder groups in the neighbourhood have met with representatives from TransLink as well, to give their feedback on the proposal.
Thus far, TransLink has not made any decisions on the shuttle service changes, according to Derek Zabel, spokesperson for TransLink.
Marisa Espinosa, TransLink's senior manager for planning, previously told the NOW the proposed changes are intended to accommodate more people in the area and current low levels of ridership.
Route C1 currently travels between the Kootenay Loop and the intersection of Hastings Street and Gilmore Avenue, and route C2 travels between the Capitol Hill area to the intersection of Hastings Street and Gilmore Avenue.
The new combined route would travel between the Kootenay Loop and the intersection of Hastings Street and Willingdon Avenue, still passing Seton Villa, but would then travel east on Hastings Street to Capitol Hill and loop around Kensington Square Shopping Centre.
There would be some change of service on Capitol Hill, as well, with the shuttle no longer looping back at Cambridge Street; instead it would travel along Dundas Street to Kensington.