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Whistler kicks in commuter funding

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By Alison Taylor

The Squamish-Whistler commuter bus is scheduled to return for daily runs beginning Nov. 23.

As in the past two years, Whistler council has committed to funding 50 per cent of the bus service, with the remainder to be funded by the District of Squamish. The service costs roughly $150,000 for the five months of operations.

B.C. Transit is still unable to contribute money because its funding has been frozen for the past several years. However, it does provide the buses.

On Monday night, Mayor Ken Melamed did not mince his words on the province’s decision to freeze funding.

“Freezing transit funding is one of the worst betrayals of British Columbians,” he said, placing the blame with the Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation.

Not only does it go against efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Melamed said, it also hampers the corridor’s ability to create a regional transit system that could stretch from Lions Bay to Pemberton.

With four round trips a day, the commuter service has become a popular choice for Squamish residents commuting to Whistler for work.

Despite its popularity, there is no guarantee from year to year that there will be money to fund the service.

According to surveys, the majority of people riding the bus are hotel workers and their major complaint about the system was overcrowding.

Emma DalSanto, municipal transportation demand management coordinator, said they are investigating bringing in buses with more seats this year.

She presented a plaque to council Monday for exceptional performance and outstanding achievement from the Canadian Urban Transit Association in recognition of the commuter service.

This year the service will run from Nov. 23 to April 22.

 

Cross-country prices going up

Cross-country skiers will need to pay a little more this year to enjoy the groomed trails around Lost Lake.

Day tickets will jump from $10 to $15, while the adult season’s pass will increase from $170 to $210.

Even though the change to the daily rate represents a 50 per cent increase, it is “somewhat below what the other resorts are offering this year,” explained Roger Weetman, the municipality’s manager of program services.

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