New routes, extensions planned
The Whistler and Valley Express will be back up and running at winter levels on Nov. 22 to coincide with the official opening of Blackcomb Mountain.
Some routes, namely the Creekside Express route and Village Shuttle, will get underway a little earlier, with more regular service starting on Nov. 14.
"Even now were leaving people behind every day, usually during the lunch hours. We dont have the capacity for the number of people in town right now, so we are offering that service a week earlier," said WAVE manager Scott Pass.
WAVE will also start offering limited service into the Spring Creek subdivision after Nov. 22, with six trips to the neighbourhood each day.
"That helps us to improve service for people using the school or the staff housing in the morning and evening, which is a start," said Pass.
Passengers going north to the village will still be able to catch the regularly scheduled buses along the highway.
Unless its a scheduled service stop, people returning to Spring Creek will still have to turn around in Function Junction. The number of late night trips to Function Junction have been increased to improve service to both areas.
"People still get dropped off on the highway, which is not ideal. It would be nice to be able to go in (Spring Creek) every time, but we dont have the service hours right now," said Pass.
Initially the bus would pull over on the southbound shoulder of the highway near the Spring Creek entrance to let passengers out, but that was stopped because it meant the bus drivers would have to pull back out in traffic around a blind corner. It also wasnt safe for passengers, as there is no stoplight to cross the road.
WAVE plans to increase the number of trips into Spring Creek once service hours increase, said Pass, which could happen in 2004 or 2005. The bus service will also be looking at ways to increase service hours by looking at service levels and ridership numbers on other routes.
The Village Shuttle will also run earlier this year with regular 15 minute service starting on Nov. 15 in anticipation of a greater demand as the ski season approaches.
Another important change for this season is that the Alpine and Emerald routes will remain separate an hour and a half later in the evening, allowing faster service to both subdivisions.
The winter schedule will be available on Nov. 17.
WAVE has a fleet of 24 buses, and boasts the highest ridership of any transit service in the province.
The level of service was cut from 2001-2002 levels last season due to a funding freeze, shortening WAVEs winter schedule. The number of service hours is now back to where it was before the cuts of 2002-2003, but provincial funding is not likely to increase for at least another year or two.
More information on WAVE, including bus schedules are available at www.busonline.com.