The Whistler and Valley Express (WAVE) transit system is on a roll this winter as ridership numbers on most routes continued to increase through the month of March.
From March 3 to 16 the bus service logged a record 222,634 riders in a two-week period, a four per cent increase over last years figures. Thats a daily average of 15,902 people.
The Emerald Estates, Alpine Meadows, Whistler Creek, Creekside Express and Hostel routes showed marked increases, while other routes were down slightly compared to 2001 numbers.
The highest increase belonged to the Whistler Creek bus route, which logged 42,473 riders, an increase of 18 per cent over previous years. The slowest day saw 2,736 riders and the busiest 3,358, and the average was 3,033.
The Emerald Estates bus transported 11,677 people during that period, for an increase of 16 per cent over last year. Ridership was also consistent with 704 riders on the slowest day and 942 on the busiest.
The Alpine Meadows route registered a slight one per cent increase in the same period for a total of 15,567 riders. The slowest day saw 989 people and the busiest 1,363.
The new Hostel route registered 520 riders.
The combined Alpine/Emerald route was down four per cent to 14,203 compared to last year, which Whistler Transit Manager Scott Pass attributes to the fact that there are more direct buses to Alpine Meadows and Emerald Estates than in the past, and fewer buses for the combined route.
Staff Housing numbers were off seven per cent, while numbers for the Village Shuttle were off by a modest one per cent.
"We were surprised by the numbers," says Pass. "With all of the predictions everyone had, I though transit numbers might be down. We talked to businesses, and they thought they would be down because of Sept. 11. Our ridership is still going up, and significantly in fare-paying areas."
WAVE will be changing to its reduced summer schedule on May 1, and according to Pass the service levels will be similar to last years, with a few changes. Some of the busier routes will see a slight increase in service, while slower routes will be reduced. In addition, buses will continue to run every half hour in the evenings to Whistler Creek and Alpine/Emerald.
The Whistler fares will also remain the same for the foreseeable future.
In contrast, Vancouver transit recently increased fares by 25 cents for one zone, to $2 per ride, and by 50 cents for two and three zones. It was the second jump in two years, raising the cost of transit by approximately 25 per cent.