Whistler ridership continues to lead province
After being forced to cut back its winter schedule by 12 days in the fall and a full week in the spring, the Whistler and Valley Express is applying to B.C. Transit to have all of that funding restored.
Because the province froze B.C. Transits budget, higher operating costs and inflation meant that transit services across the province had to find the money in their own budgets, which were frozen because they are linked to a B.C. Transit funding formula.
Since Whistler offers two levels of service, one for winter and one for summer, the simplest solution was to make the winter service schedule shorter by almost 20 days.
Under a new flexible funding formula approved by the province, transit companies were allowed to apply for interim funding to make up for any shortfalls that were a result of the budget freeze. Whistler has already applied for the funding, and WAVE manager Scott Pass is confident that B.C. Transit will come through.
"Even in the shoulder season, when its mostly locals, our ridership numbers are still strong," he said.
Transit companies and municipalities around the province will also be allowed to apply to change the funding formula. Currently the funding is split 53 per cent and 47 per cent between the municipality and B.C. transit, with the municipality chipping in the larger share.
While B.C. Transits budget will remain frozen for the next few years, municipalities will be allowed to kick in more than is stipulated in the funding formula to increase service and make up for any shortfalls.
Pass does not expect the funding formula to change in Whistler any time soon, but options are being kept open.
Overall, B.C. Transit saw ridership in its 69 municipal systems increase 5.4 per cent in the past year, or by a total of one million passengers.
Whistler ridership rose by 12.2 per cent in the same period, with more than 312,000 more passengers.
WAVE also continues to lead the province in economic performance, recouping more of its costs than other services in B.C.