BC Transit wants your say on the future of public transportation, and will be touring communities across the Sea to Sky next month to consult on the region's 25-year Transit Future Plan.
Following the first phase of consultation held in March, BC Transit will bring its 40-foot "Transit Future Bus" to the corridor, featuring educational displays and maps highlighting specific transit needs, priorities and concerns for community members to tour.
Working with local government partners the RMOW, the District of Squamish and the SLRD, BC Transit wants to reconfirm the findings from the first round of consultation before making planning recommendations about routes, schedules and service hours. Over 1,000 Sea to Sky residents provided feedback during the last consultation period. Based on those findings, a major priority for the transit service provider will be increasing ridership, said BC Transit spokesperson Meribeth Burton.
"From both residents and elected officials, we are hearing that we want to grow ridership," she said. "We want ... to determine if we are targeting the regions you are looking for and will this be effective for you? Will this attract you if you're not a rider, and if you are a current rider, does this meet what you think will be the growing demand? So it will be both short, medium and long-term concepts on the board."
In Whistler, municipal officials have proposed a handful of ideas to build ridership in a community that already enjoys up to a 30-per-cent load share in peak season, including developing a transit phone app that would track the locations of buses in real time.
"(Councillor) Jack (Crompton) and other elected officials have certainly been promoting the idea of getting more advanced technology," Burton said. "It's about weighing the costs because this is a taxpayer-funded service, so we will work with our elected officials."
BC Transit is also looking at the potential of instituting a subsidized U-Pass system similar to what's in place in other communities to build ridership.
"The U-Pass system is incredibly effective in Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops and Prince George," said Burton. "We would love to work with our partners in the Sea to Sky region to make that happen."
A stakeholder workshop with members of BC Transit and the municipal Transit Management Advisory Committee will be held in January.
The interactive bus will be making stops at the Village Gate Boulevard bus shelter in Whistler on Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Nesters Square bus shelter from 3 to 5 p.m.
In Mount Currie, the bus will be at the Lil'wat Nation Band Office from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 4 and at the Cottonwood Community Centre from 4:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
The Squamish First Nation Totem Hall hosts the Transit Future Bus on Dec. 5 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and then at Squamish Elementary School the following day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the Chieftain Centre bus shelter from 3 to 4:30 p.m.; and at the Sea to Sky Gondola on Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. until noon.
The public can also share comments online at www.bctransit.com/transitfuture. BC Transit plans to report back on findings from the Transit Future consultation process in the spring.