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Commuter challenge for members of city council

Dear editor: I am running for city council. In preparation, I started attending city council meetings last year. I also gave up driving in favour of taking public transit.

Since a large portion of the population in Ward 2 take the bus, I thought it was important to get first-hand experience in local transit issues. This decision has been a real eye-opener for me.

After successfully taking the bus all winter without any issues, I recently  had my first minor ‘melt down’ after getting caught in a rain storm.

Part of my job is to meet potential sponsors. On this particular day I had an appointment in an industrial area in the north end of the city. My bus was late, and as a result I was late for my appointment. When I went to catch my bus home, the bus driver didn’t see me, so I was left standing there in the rain with nowhere to go.

Upon checking with Guelph Transit, via phone, I was assured that if I just walked down the road a little bit I could catch another bus going downtown. This “little way” turned into a nightmare.

Since there are no sidewalks on Woodlawn Road and I didn’t want to get muddy feet, I had to walk on the road. This turned out to be a dangerous. I had to walk facing the traffic, and there wasn’t even a soft shoulder to walk on!

I am lucky I have a wonderful husband who would be willing to drop me off anywhere I would like to go, but I feel that isn’t fair to the other bus passengers who don’t have this privilege.

Recently while attending a council meeting on the Brant neighbourhood group, we heard from a mother who recently arrived from Africa with her eight children.

To go to a doctor’s appointment or the Guelph Food Bank she must take two buses there and two to come back. After visiting the food bank, she needs to walk a long way to the bus stop carrying several heavy boxes as well as watching her young children.

So here’s the challenge: for one week I would like fellow council candidates, councillors, the mayor and anyone making Guelph Transit decisions to take the bus.

At least one of these visits needs to include a trip to the plaza by the north end movie theatre. People leaving the theatre after a late show have to wait at an unsafe bus stop to get home.

If you wanted to make the challenge even more of an experience for you, I would suggest babysitting someone’s young children for a day and take them on the bus too.

Sian Matwey
Candidate Ward 2

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