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Transit open house a big draw in Pemberton



More than 100 people turned out to a public information booth in Pemberton on Saturday with a view to seeing transit service increase between Whistler and the Pemberton Valley.

B.C. Transit organized an information booth at the Pemberton Outdoor and Home Show, which was held at the new community centre on Portage Road. Officials with the Crown Corporation were on hand to collect comments from local residents and spokeswoman Joanna Morton said they met about 100 people.

Attendants were asked to fill out surveys at the booth and through "Survey Monkey" on the B.C. Transit website. Morton said the data gathered at the booth will be used as feedback for a Pemberton Area Transit Service Review, which will see a report completed by the end of June and presented to Pemberton council in July.

"It's about assessing the needs, finding out what kind of service the community wants," she said. "It's also asking how would they like to pay for this expanded service. It needs to cost something, that's why we have to ask that pertinent question, how are we going to pay for the expanded service? Whether it's property taxes, fare increases, in addition to also identifying the needs that they want for the Pemberton transit review."

The review comes as demand for increased transit has escalated in Pemberton. Twenty-four-hour bus service during the Olympics led to residents petitioning for transit to be increased as soon as possible. More than 2,000 people signed a petition spearheaded by Craig McCurry and Cara Jenner.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said he was impressed at the number of people who visited the booth and that "hopefully they got good input." He went on to encourage people to use B.C. Transit's Survey Monkey, as that would allow people to continue giving input.

Asked how much he expects service to ramp up as a result of the review, Sturdy said that depends on a number of factors.

"It will depend on how many dollars are allocated to the service and whether there are partner dollars from B.C. Transit," he said. "We fund about half of it and B.C. Transit funds the other half, so to a large degree, any increase in service is highly dependent on a B.C. Transit partner."

The corporation also held an open house in Mount Currie that saw about 10 people show up. There is, however, interest within that community in increasing transit to the area.

Anyone who still wishes to comment can go to B.C. Transit's website. Click on the South Coast Region, Pemberton/Whistler and then click on the link to the survey.

"I think they're continuing to take information so I would encourage people to fill out the form," she said.