Whistler’s plea for new buses was answered by B.C. Transit this week with delivery of the first of 21 clean diesel buses. The entire fleet will join the fleet by Christmas.
The buses are almost two metres longer and have greater capacity than the buses that have been used in Whistler. As well, they are quieter, more fuel efficient, produce fewer emissions, and are more easily accessed by wheelchairs and strollers, with wider doors, extendible ramps and the ability to “kneel” nine inches.
Mayor Ken Melamed was on hand to take the first ride on Monday.
“Everybody was aware of the need for new buses and the urgency for getting them here this winter, and for that reason I thank (B.C. Transit vice president) Ron (Drolet) for acting so quickly,” he said.
“At a meeting a year and a half ago, I told B.C. Transit that our bus fleet was being held together with duct tape and bailing wire, and they checked it out themselves and decided something needed to be done.”
According to Drolet, Whistler moved to the front of the list after an inspection. Last year the service had over three million riders, and the highest cost recovery of any bus service in the province, as well as the highest per capita ridership in Canada.
The buses will remain in Whistler through the 2010 Games, supplementing the fleet which will expand with 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses that will be delivered in 2009. After the Games, all of the new diesel buses could be sent to other communities, but some may stay in Whistler to supplement the fleet of 28 vehicles.
The Whistler and Valley Express winter season is being phased in this year, with the Creekside Express running from Oct. 18, the village shuttle starting on Nov. 27, and the expanded winter season underway on Dec. 10.