Surrey/North Delta Leader

Fraser Health keeps hospital shuttle in Surrey

Fraser Health will keep running its own free shuttle bus service connecting its hospitals and headquarters in north Surrey after a successful three-month pilot project.

And it may direct the shuttle to take over most courier duties between those sites, helping reduce the cost.

The health authority expects to pay $155,000 to run the Central City Health Shuttle between Surrey Memorial Hospital, the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care Centre, Fraser Health's Central City headquarters and King George SkyTrain station in 2013.

About 3,000 riders used the service in October and November, or about 100 a day.

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said 80 per cent of the users were staff.

More than a third were opting to leave their cars at home and take SkyTrain once they knew a dedicated shuttle would carry them on the final leg to work.

"During the flooding of the emergency department at Surrey Memorial it was used to help transport staff and patients between SMH and Jim Pattison," Juma said.

The net cost could come down considerably if the shuttle can handle courier deliveries between the three north Surrey sites, which cost up to $100,000 a year.

Juma said another benefit of the shuttle is less demand for parking spaces – an estimated 100 fewer vehicles now jockey for stalls.

The health authority is also in talks with the RCMP on the potential for the force to cost-share a stop at the new E division headquarters in Green Timbers.

The shuttle makes runs about every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 5:50 p.m.

Juma said it makes sense in north Surrey – but not elsewhere in Fraser Health – because of the cluster of facilities and SkyTrain stations in close proximity.

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