By Vivian Moreau
Kathy Macalister thinks bus riders on Whistler’s south-bound
routes don’t get enough respect.
While north-bound riders between Function Junction and the
village have nine stops with shelters on the highway, south-bound riders have none.
Macalister lives in Brio and rides the bus every day to work in
Function Junction. She sees school kids standing by the highway waiting for a
school bus to take them to Spring Creek and groups of workers heading to
Function. And nothing to shelter them from temperatures that, with the
wind-chill factor, this week dipped to -28 Celsius.
The municipality is responsible for installing and maintaining
bus shelters in the valley. Three years ago Macalister wrote several letters to
the municipality advocating for more shelters. She received a response saying
there were plans to build eight shelters over the next five years but did not
specify where the shelters were to be located. Today there are still no
shelters between the village and Function when traveling southbound, and that
“You stand out there on a sleety, blowy, pissing rain day and
you’re out there under your little umbrella and all these trucks and everybody
spraying you — it’s not fun, Macalister said.
Brian Barnett is the municipality’s head of engineering and
public works. He says most people riding Whistler’s transit system are headed
north to the village.
“We do have an implementation plan of only a limited number of
bus shelters over a certain period of time so we’re just providing those in the
highest-used areas and that’s in the direction of the village as opposed to
Function Junction,” Barnett said.
Although Whistler’s transit system sees about 6,000 riders a
day use the system, it doesn’t track at which bus stops riders get on. Five
times a year bus drivers do manual tallies of rider numbers, and specific
numbers for stops could be noted if needed, says Scott Pass, transit system
manager. But the decision where and when to install shelters is ultimately up
to the municipality, he says.
Macalister says the municipality’s rezoning of certain areas of
Function Junction to accommodate more businesses means more people will be
travelling to the industrial park that is rapidly becoming a neighbourhood.
“We don’t have to have $20,000 shelters all matching and made from wood,” Macalister said. “I don’t mind having ones like in the city that are just plexiglass, just as long as there’s something.”