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I've been looking through schedules for BC Transit's extremely obscure Health Connections services (different from Northern Health Connections). They are almost never included in riders guides, and some operate as infrequently as once a month, but are available for the general public to use. I'm wondering if anyone has either seen or used these services? I have only ever seen a single BC Transit Health Connections bus. While driving past Costco in Kamloops this past summer, I drove past a Community Shuttle with no bike rack on the front that had a digital display that simply simply said "Kamloops." While I can't be a hundred percent certain that this was a health connections bus, and I failed to check the time to see if lined up with the scheduling of any of the services from Kamloops, I am fairly certain this was a health connections bus as there was no number on the board.

I'm going to try tracking down a health connections bus next time I'm in either Princeton or Kamloops, as they are fairly frequent in both of those places. The entire service baffles me somewhat - in some cases, the service provided by BC Transit Health Connections operates on the same day as a limited regional service, leaving a mere hour later. For example, South Okanagan-Similkameen Route 50 Princeton-Penticton operates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, leaving Princeton at 7:15AM is repeated as a Health Connections bus only forty-five minutes later at 8:00AM. This wouldn't be a surprise if Route 50 operated more frequently, but the health connection bus has the exact same route, stops and schedule (other than being offset by 45 minutes).

If anyone in the communities served by BC Transit Health Connections knows anything about these bizarre and obscure public buses or has any photos they could share, I would hugely appreciate it. 

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I have seen some of these buses operating in the West Kootenay Transit system. Those are your best bet for actually riding them, as they are connections for smaller communities to the main service area. Many operate at least two or three days a week, with trips to Nelson in the morning and back in the afternoon or evening. They are handy connectors for smaller communities as there often isn't any intercity bus service anymore.

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12 hours ago, InfiNorth said:

I've been looking through schedules for BC Transit's extremely obscure Health Connections services (different from Northern Health Connections). They are almost never included in riders guides, and some operate as infrequently as once a month, but are available for the general public to use. I'm wondering if anyone has either seen or used these services? I have only ever seen a single BC Transit Health Connections bus. While driving past Costco in Kamloops this past summer, I drove past a Community Shuttle with no bike rack on the front that had a digital display that simply simply said "Kamloops." While I can't be a hundred percent certain that this was a health connections bus, and I failed to check the time to see if lined up with the scheduling of any of the services from Kamloops, I am fairly certain this was a health connections bus as there was no number on the board.

I'm going to try tracking down a health connections bus next time I'm in either Princeton or Kamloops, as they are fairly frequent in both of those places. The entire service baffles me somewhat - in some cases, the service provided by BC Transit Health Connections operates on the same day as a limited regional service, leaving a mere hour later. For example, South Okanagan-Similkameen Route 50 Princeton-Penticton operates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, leaving Princeton at 7:15AM is repeated as a Health Connections bus only forty-five minutes later at 8:00AM. This wouldn't be a surprise if Route 50 operated more frequently, but the health connection bus has the exact same route, stops and schedule (other than being offset by 45 minutes).

If anyone in the communities served by BC Transit Health Connections knows anything about these bizarre and obscure public buses or has any photos they could share, I would hugely appreciate it. 

Most of the Health Connections buses are not operated by the major city they serve (i.e. Kamloops or Kelowna) - they are operated by a smaller system where the bus originates from. So those Health Connections that serve Kamloops would not be in the system schedules for Kamloops. As for the low publicity of them, well in many of these small communities the Health Connections is the only bus run by the system, so the people who need to use it likely know its schedule already. Most of them require trips to be pre-booked, meaning the dispatcher will give a specific time on when the bus will show up when a trip is booked (reducing the need for published schedules).

As @SidneyTransitfan mentioned, the ones operating for West Kootenay Transit System into Nelson are much better organized and represented on the system schedules, even going as far as numbering the various routes. Here's some of my photos from a trip back in 2017:

34668907404_dd8487157b_n.jpg 35342912792_76a26e89ab_n.jpg

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Thanks for the replies! The West Kootenay Transit System buses aren't quite the BC Transit Health Connections buses I'm curious about, as they are all included in the riders guide. The 74 and 76 are regularly scheduled buses that don't prioritize health passengers and do not require advance reservations (as far as I can tell) with the exception of Route 52. Many of the other routes operate similarly with only a few buses a week but aren't listed as Health Connections buses. I'm most curious about services that aren't included in riders guides and seem somewhat thrown together from the lack of uniformity on their webpages, like the Kamloops-based services. On that note, I was also curious what the buses in the West Kootenay system looked like and now I know. I'm glad to see they have mostly up-to-date community buses. Thanks for the information!

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On 9/28/2019 at 9:26 AM, InfiNorth said:

Thanks for the replies! The West Kootenay Transit System buses aren't quite the BC Transit Health Connections buses I'm curious about, as they are all included in the riders guide. The 74 and 76 are regularly scheduled buses that don't prioritize health passengers and do not require advance reservations (as far as I can tell) with the exception of Route 52. Many of the other routes operate similarly with only a few buses a week but aren't listed as Health Connections buses. I'm most curious about services that aren't included in riders guides and seem somewhat thrown together from the lack of uniformity on their webpages, like the Kamloops-based services. On that note, I was also curious what the buses in the West Kootenay system looked like and now I know. I'm glad to see they have mostly up-to-date community buses. Thanks for the information!

Health Connections services are funded by the Regional Health Authority as opposed to a municipal partner. Because of this, in the past the Health Connections services would have their own Riders Guide separate from the municipally funded system if it existed. I haven't seen a separate Health Connections Riders Guide for a while now, so I'm guessing they don't do that anymore, at least not in an official capacity. How the service is paid for and it's primary target ridership is most likely the reason for the how the schedules themselves are both presented and marketed. 

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It was done that way to ensure that people weren't just using it to go shopping.  I know in the East Kootenay, they had people showing up in Golden expecting to go shopping in Cranbrook for the day, and were turned away because by the time the bus got to other points down the Columbia Valley, the bus would be full with booked passengers.  People would get angry and argue with the driver.  But it was communicated to people that there was a transit connection to Cranbrook, but not communicated by the right people.  

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7 hours ago, dzldriver said:

It was done that way to ensure that people weren't just using it to go shopping.  I know in the East Kootenay, they had people showing up in Golden expecting to go shopping in Cranbrook for the day, and were turned away because by the time the bus got to other points down the Columbia Valley, the bus would be full with booked passengers.  People would get angry and argue with the driver.  But it was communicated to people that there was a transit connection to Cranbrook, but not communicated by the right people.  

In the case of Kamloops, that seems very unlikely since it literally only stops in two places: Logan Lake and Kamloops. There are no intermediate stops for people to be left behind at.

Sounds like they need a service expansion or an actual proper long-distance transit service like the Ashcroft-Cache Creek-Clinton system. It also sounds like it needs to be easier for people to find the scheduling province-wide. We need a province-wide timetable system that puts privately and publicly funded buses in one place so people can actually figure out how to get from place to place instead of relying on spotty local knowledge and individual operators.

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Let's face it, the whole thing needs a complete rework.  I think honestly what should happen is that BC Transit replace what Greyhound abandoned by implementing an intercity transit system using coaches.  LInk all of the systems together and have the intercity buses transfer at main terminuses and trasfer people to local service.  The tricky part would be in the eastern part of the province to make sure there are connections to Alberta centers and services for them.  That is where Greyhound shined and becuase of poor management, failed.  but with the price of gas going so far down right now, I don't see that being a viable option at this point. 

 

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39 minutes ago, dzldriver said:

Let's face it, the whole thing needs a complete rework.  I think honestly what should happen is that BC Transit replace what Greyhound abandoned by implementing an intercity transit system using coaches.  LInk all of the systems together and have the intercity buses transfer at main terminuses and trasfer people to local service.  The tricky part would be in the eastern part of the province to make sure there are connections to Alberta centers and services for them.  That is where Greyhound shined and becuase of poor management, failed.  but with the price of gas going so far down right now, I don't see that being a viable option at this point. 

 

I think a shining example of how BC Transit should really look is the West Kootenay Transit System. Infrequent long-distance services coupled with infrequent local services that overlap and create slightly more frequent services in such a rural part of our province. It boggles the mind that the West Kootenays can figure this out but the rest of BC, including the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland, can't. Sure, the Lower Mainland has the FVX, and the Okanagan has stuff like the UBCO Connector and the Kelowna Commuter from Penticton, but the rest of the services are so spotty. Service to Princeton is thrice weekly. Despite serving the same area, no connections through to Salmon Arm are possible from Vernon. Why isn't the entire East side of Vancouver Island, which is effectively one continuous corridor of small towns, connected by a system like the West Kootenays? Parts of it are, but it's so fragmented that it's nearly impossible to use and there are glaring gaps (why can you get to Duncan from Ladysmith, and not to Nanaimo?) It all seems so dumb and while I'm not always a fan of centralizing and making an organization bigger and more powerful, BC Transit needs to assume a new role instead of leaving us to rely on sub-par private operators that refuse to coordinate with each other. At least Wilson's has partnered with eBus, but they still have two separate websites. I'm passionate about intercity services, sorry, /rant. 

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