More people are complaining
about the bus system this year compared to last year, according to Whistler
Transit Ltd. manager Scott Burley.
The complaints range from
buses being late, to crowded buses not picking people up at stops, to bus fare
machines not working properly.
In response to these
complaints, Burley wants to remind riders that the Whistler and Valley Transit
System (WAVE) is hauling an average 20,750 people a day – and only 200 people a
day are not happy with the service.
“We apologize for the delay.
Just realize our guys are out there doing the absolute best they can in the
conditions they work in,” said Burley.
“The schedule is built for a
nice afternoon in October. We can’t schedule for snow, otherwise it would just
be prohibitive,” adding that weather, other drivers on the road not prepared
for the weather, and high ridership are the main reasons for the problems.
Burley says when it starts to
snow heavily Whistler Transit Ltd. drivers are encouraged to slow down, take
their time, and be careful.
“Our first mandate is we are
going to get you there, we are going to get you there safely, but we are
probably going to get you there late,” said Burley.
“It is much better to get
your passengers to the far end late and alive than not get there at all.”
The WAVE transit system is a
three-way partnership between Whistler Transit Ltd., the Resort Municipality of
Whistler (RMOW) and BC Transit.
Wilhelm-Morden said the municipality is aware of the problem and have been
having urgent discussions over the past two or three weeks.
“I think the service level
has deteriorated somewhat this year,” said Wilhelm-Morden.
“We have been talking about
this internally and our senior staff have been meeting with both the operating
company – Whistler Transit – and with BC Transit to address these various
concerns,” she said.
Wilhelm-Morden added that
more meetings are planned to get an update on what BC Transit and Whistler
Transit are doing to fix the situation, particularly with the large number of
fare boxes and pass readers that are breaking down.
She said this is a concern
because the municipality is potentially losing significant amounts of money by
not properly collecting fares.
However Brian Barnett,
general manager of environmental services for the municipality, said the
municipality is tracking the lost revenue and anticipate being fully reimbursed
at no cost to Whistler taxpayers.
“Overwhelmingly, people are satisfied with the system because there is such
high use of it.”
He said Whistler has the
number one transit system in the country in terms of ridership, and one of the
lowest fares in the country.
“I want to really emphasize
as clear as I can that on a statistical basis, on a factual basis, the system
is greatly appreciated because of its high use, as opposed to a poor system
that people have reason to complain about,” said Barnett.
Whistler transported 21,347
people on average over the Christmas holiday, up three per cent from last
year’s record-breaking numbers.
Whistler will be receiving
either buses or funding from the Ministry of Transportation as part of the
provincial government’s new transit plan upgrade announced Jan. 14.
“I don’t know how many or in
what form you’ll be receiving it, but Whistler will definitely be receiving
something from the transit plan,” said Tamara Little, communication director
for the Ministry of Transportation.
The transit plan involves $14
billion in new funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the
Already, the government has
earmarked $10.3 billion for four new rapid transit lines in Metro Vancouver;
$1.2 billion for a new RapidBus BC service along major routes in the
high-growth urban centres of Kelowna, Victoria and Metro Vancouver; and $1.6
billion to provide 1,500 clean energy buses and related maintenance
infrastructure to communities across the province.