If you build it, they will come, seems to be the consensus at the Village of Pemberton (VOP) council table in light of a newly released Sea to Sky Transit Future Plan that looks at transit ridership and future solutions.
Results of a recent survey revealed that Pemberton residents use public transit to travel to Whistler primarily for work, and that the second-most popular destination is Squamish for shopping, social and recreational purposes, and Vancouver as the third most popular destination.
BC Transit representatives Lisa Trotter, senior regional transit manager, and Levi Megenbir, transportation planner, presented the survey results to council at the regular meeting Feb. 21.
Squamish respondents outnumbered those of Whistler and Pemberton combined, and with the largest representation of respondents in the 35 to 44 age group.
With the survey results now released, public consultation meetings are scheduled for Pemberton on March 4 at the Pemberton Community Centre from 2 to 4 p.m., plus a meeting scheduled for the same day at the Lil'Wat Community complex from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.
Other survey results reveal that 80 per cent of respondents own their own vehicle and, when using it, are alone for almost 60 per cent of trips.
Although the traditional funding split is roughly 54 per cent for provincial government and 46 per cent for municipalities, VOP Mayor Mike Richman said there should be some adjustments.
"The 54/46 breakdown is a huge burden on small towns," he said. "There should be a funding model suitable for us."
As the transit service, breakdown of payment, fares and service schedules have yet to be determined, VOP council said there are many concerns that need to be addressed, including:
• An adjustment of bus schedules as transit is geared largely toward daytime work and not the late-night bar and restaurant industry workers who could use the buses to commute to and from Whistler;
• Existing daytime commuter service now is seemingly at capacity. Coun. James Linklater said he uses the service from Pemberton to Whistler and the buses are fully loaded and with little variance between summer and winter;
• Coun. Karen Ross raised the spectre of sharing the cost among corridor communities.
Among the study recommendations are increased service to the Benchlands, Tiyata and Hillside areas, including new bus stops, plus improved local service to Mt. Currie, D'Arcy/N'Quatqua, Sunstone and WedgeWoods.
The study reports that an added estimated 50,000 transit service hours — including midday service on weekdays — will be required to achieve proposed service to 2020 and at a cost of $55,000.