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Transit changes start next week

Refinements are meant to address concerns to changes made in December

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Next week sees the implementation of a new transit route structure for Whistler.

Described as second phase refinements to follow changes brought in on Dec. 19 in a release from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), they will take effect on Feb. 23. The changes include:

• Bringing all northbound and southbound Valley Connector trips through Gondola Transit Exchange for the winter.

• Improving connections between Alpine and Nordic to Function Junction for 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. start times and for 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. end times,

• Improving schedule reliability by adding more recovery time for trips that are consistently late,

• Reallocating underused service hours south of Whistler Creek first, to offset bringing the Valley Connector trips into the Gondola Transit Exchange and then, if hours remain, to add service to Rainbow and Emerald (one more round trip per day to those subdivisions from the village was also added), and

• Improving the Rider's Guide and web schedule readability for trips serving Function Junction by adding a separate printed schedule.

The changes will remain until the end of the mid-winter schedule on April 9.

Deep cuts were made to Whistler's transit system this season, and the municipality remains $840,000 short to fund it.

Complaints followed the implementation of changes to the transit system in December after the council last year went with the option of funding the system through cuts identified by a service review.

This came after the council acknowledged that it could not afford to keep up with rising transit costs despite increased fares.

"Transit continues to be a challenge for us," Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said as she discussed the changes during a report to council on Jan. 24.

A spokesperson for the RMOW said transit users are encouraged to make suggestions on BC Transit's customer service report page at http://www.bctransit.com/regions/whi/contactus/cust_serv_report.cfm. Completed forms are being sent to Whistler's transit partners: the RMOW, BC Transit and Whistler Transit.

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