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Snowbus melts away without license



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As a result of this dilemma, the idea of the Snowbus was born.

The Snowbus offered a $25 roundtrip ride (or $15 one way) on a luxury bus with movies, refreshments and other discount deals on rentals, tickets and Whistler restaurants, among other things.

In order to ride the Snowbus, customers had to become a member of the Snowclub for a one time $5 fee.

This whole package deal was geared towards Vancouver and Whistler locals, offering them a cheaper mode of transportation.

Elbert's main target group was students.

He estimates there are about 2,500 members of the Snowclub. Most of them go to UBC and SFU or are ESL students.

"We had a great idea and people that loved it," he said.

"We weren't a bus service. We were a club that had a chartered bus."

He said the numbers are proof there is a need for this type of service.

When the Snowbus was in operation it ran four times a day – twice from Vancouver and twice from Whistler.

A club member could use the Snowbus at any time.

Currently the cost of a roundtrip ticket to Vancouver on the Greyhound is $42. The Perimeter, which is the airport service to and from Whistler, runs for roughly $60 one way. These are the only two commercial bus services to the resort.

"People don't have to pay those prices," said Elbert.

"It's ridiculous. People are getting raked over the coals."

Elbert saw the Snowbus as the cheap alternative, which in fact offered an enhanced service. He called the Snowbus the Costco of Whistler.

And it was a way to break down the Greyhound/Perimeter monopoly.

Greyhound has been operating the Whistler line for four years now, since the purchase of Maverick in 1998.

Perimeter has been operating for about eight years now.

Both services have firmly established roots in the community. They are the only way in and out of Whistler by bus.

"I don't understand how it can be allowed," said Elbert.

"There should be privatization. There should be competition. We let the big American companies come in and take over and there's no room for the little guys. It's not fair."

But the fact remains that the Snowbus did not have a license to operate regularly scheduled services.

"He was trying to operate outside the system that is established in B.C.," said Mell.

At the moment Elbert is continuing to run special events for Snowclub members. He is allowed to do this because they are not regularly scheduled services.