The Whistler and Valley Express is ramping up bus service once again following the addition of the Creekside Express bus in October and additional Village Shuttle service that got underway on opening day for Whistler Mountain.
Today (Nov. 26) the service ratchets up another notch with increased service to Whistler Creek and additional staff housing buses, as well as changes to some other routes.
Typically the full winter schedule would kick in on opening weekend, but RMOW traffic demand coordinator Emma DalSanto says that wasn't in the cards for this year.
"Full winter service is going to start on Dec. 18, and that date was basically given to us because of a lot of different parameters we had to work around," said DalSanto. "B.C. Transit has said Dec. 18, so from there we have had to work backwards and work with B.C. Transit to ramp up service where we could."
The transit service will actually ramp up in five phases this year - October's Creekside Express bus, the opening weekend Village Shuttle Service, the Nov. 26 (American Thanksgiving and opening day for Blackcomb) ramp up, the move to winter operations on Dec. 18 and the phasing in of the Olympic schedule on Feb. 1.
The Nov. 26 schedule includes additional Creekside Express service, more Whistler Creek bus service into Nordic during the day, early morning buses to and from staff housing at Base II and other small changes to enhance service. More service at the north end of town, including Tapley's Farm, will start on Dec. 18.
"Officially we're adding two full buses to the Creekside Express route from 7:53 a.m. to 7 p.m.... and with that extra Creekside service we were able to add more mid-day service through Nordic Estates," DalSanto explained. "Right now there's a gap from around 10:40 a.m. until noon, but we'll now be going into Nordic at 11:03 and 11:48, which was based on the feedback of riders.
"The other change is that on Thursday the staff housing route will have an early morning bus to get people to work on time at 5:47 a.m."
DalSanto herself rides the bus from Alpine Meadows and Emerald Estates in the morning and realizes that the 7:30 bus can get pretty busy with employees getting to work and skiers and snowboarders heading to the mountains. She said there remains lots of space on the 7 a.m. bus if riders change their schedules and urged people to be patient until the full winter service kicks in.
The Squamish-Whistler commuter bus is also changing its schedule slightly on Nov. 26. Riders now can request a detour into Brackendale on the return trips from Whistler, which wasn't available in the past. The change was made to compensate for the loss of Greyhound service, after Greyhound recently cut service along some routes that were popular with commuters.