Numbers attributed to warm weather, construction
For the time in several years, the Whistler and Valley Express is reporting a slight decline in their ridership counts compared to numbers taken the previous year.
Between July 28 and Aug. 11, ridership was down by just two per cent, or 916 riders.
Broken down over routes, the Emerald Estates and Alpine Meadows routes were down 10 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. According to transit manager Scott Pass, buses on both routes were making one less trip in the late morning and early afternoon.
The slack was apparently picked up by the combined Alpine/Emerald route, which saw ridership increase by 29 per cent.
"Whats happened there is that weve taken away a total of four routes from the Alpine and Emerald routes, and transferred them to the Alpine/Emerald. Service," said Pass.
At current service levels, buses head north and back every 15 minutes.
The Whistler Creek bus numbers are up 15 per cent compared to last year, with more than 19,000 riders in the two week period.
"We are seeing more staff in Millars Pond and Spring Creek, but a lot of the increase has to do with the Whistler Creek developments," said Pass. "One of these days the numbers will probably level off."
The route to the hostel dropped off by 41 per cent, from 170 riders to 101. Few people use the route to begin with, and Pass says the numbers are too small to make any guesses as to why ridership is down.
The Tapleys Connector bus also saw ridership decline by six per cent.
Staff Housing was up by four per cent, and the Village Shuttle was down by another six per cent.
Both the Tapleys route and the Village Shuttle are used by visitors, and Pass believes lower numbers might be attributable to a combination of factors, including the good weather and overall lower occupancy within the resort.
The biggest decline was on the Lost Lake Shuttle, where numbers dropped 44 per cent from 8,967 last year to 5,008 this summer.
"The construction of the Four Seasons where the parking lot used to be has probably impacted those numbers," said Pass. "People used to park there and catch the bus to the lake. We guess that theyre parking in the day lots instead and walking there, because the lake seems to be as busy as ever this summer."
The routes will remain the same until the winter schedule kicks in. To make the budget cuts requested by the provincial government, Pass says the winter schedule will kick in six days later this year than last year.
"That takes care of our cuts for this year, and gets them out of the way so we can run a normal schedule during the winter season," said Pass.
Whistler and Valley Express also has some extra bus service hours if things get busier on certain routes.
"For example, when the mountains have their hiring fair, theres going to be a huge demand to get to Creekside, so we may have to add a few buses to the route for as long as that lasts," Pass said.