There was a bit of chaos on Monday morning as 250 bus drivers from across Canada joined the resident crew to provide service in Whistler and throughout the corridor through the month of February.
More than 150 buses have been commissioned to operate during the Olympic Games, connecting Whistler to Squamish and Pemberton, connecting riders to Olympic venues and providing around the clock service throughout the resort.
Some bus drivers, who trained at night, had to ask passengers to help them follow the route on Monday morning. A few drivers missed stops and connections.
As well, passengers also had a few issues with the service. Some found themselves standing at bus stops unaware that the schedule had changed, while surprised skiers were upset to find out their regular buses pulled into the new transportation mall on Main Street rather than the usual transit circle at the base of Whistler Mountain.
At a press conference on Monday representatives from VANOC and B.C. Transit hammered home the message that this was a rehearsal week for the Games and that people should be patient.
"It's really important for people to start planning ahead," said Manuel Achadinha, president and CEO of B.C. Transit. "We're having a good first day and this week we'll see more people jumping on transit."
The message to the public was to "get on board" and to "know before you go." More information on the bus service is available at www.bctransit.com, www.whistler2010.com and www.transportation2010.com.
As well, Whistler's 2010 director of operations Jan Jansen suggested that people consider other transportation alternatives. For example, cross-country ski trails are being maintained for people to commute to the village by skis, while extra efforts are being made to clear the Valley Trail for walkers and cyclists.
"There are road closures, direction changes on Main Street are already in effect, Whistler Blackcomb's parking lots are running, and we have the torch relay coming through on Friday," Jansen said. He added that it was a good opportunity for Whistler residents to start thinking about alternatives to driving.