Millionth bus rider coming Monday Successful Muni transit system celebrates By Chris Woodall Be at the right place, Monday morning, and you could catch a ride into bus transit history books. Whistler Transit System has grown so much since the first red and white vehicle patrolled the streets in December, 1991, that it will collect its millionth fare of the year sometime Monday, March 30. The lucky bus rider will get a free bus pass good for a full year from Whistler Mayor Hugh O'Reilly and councillor Ken Melamed, acting chair of the transit management committee. Both have vowed to ride the resort’s buses at the crack of dawn until the millionth rider hops on board. "We want to recognize our one-millionth rider and I'm going to be there for the occasion," O'Reilly says. The sort-of-lucky person waiting in line just ahead of, and just behind, the millionth rider will get prizes, too: a monthly pass and other gifts. The year-long transit pass is worth $600. Specially designed, it will carry a photo of the winner's smiling face The fleet of 11 buses — only three or four run during June-November — are projected to carry 1,009,000 riders in the 1997/98 season, up from the 996,400 passengers ferried during the 1996/97 season. The transit system has been a B.C. success story from the instant the first bus door swung open at the Village Gate Boulevard bus stop. Last year Whistler recorded B.C.'s second highest performance rating — 33.9 passengers an hour — and at 46.1 per cent the second highest cost recovery rate. Whistler had the best cost recovery, biggest increase in ridership and second highest performance rating of any of the province's 68 bus systems the year before. Whistler Transit Ltd. is a private company that runs the bus system in partnership with the resort municipality and the provincial government’s BC Transit. Whistler's bus system continues to improve. It's latest efforts have been to extend late night service to coincide with tavern closures, and increased frequency on most routes. Four buses will be added in November this year, perhaps to create a rumoured express service linking Function Junction directly to Emerald Estates with stops along Highway 99 only. "Buses are a major focus of our transportation planning for the municipality," Melamed says, noting the growing traffic congestion and increasing difficulty in finding parking spots.