Big Move 1: Move beyond the car

Big Moves

Goal: By 2030, 50 per cent of all trips in Whistler are by transit and active transport

Personal vehicles are by far Whistler’s largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for 54% of Whistler’s total emissions. Moving beyond car-based transport to active transport and increased transit use is a key opportunity to reduce transport related emissions. Averaging out summer and winter 2019 survey results, 67% of full-time residents make most of their trips to work in cars, while 33% travel to work primarily using transit or active transport.  

A shift towards more transit and active transportation is also a shift towards more climate equity. Ongoing investments in Whistler’s transit systems for a reliable and affordable service allows lowcarbon transportation choices for all Whistler residents. In addition, further expanding the transit system beyond Whistler for effective regional transit will allow for low carbon commuting to and from Whistler.

Walking and cycling are increasingly seen as a viable opportunity to get around Whistler. Further investments in safe and well-maintained active transport infrastructure is needed to increase their share of travel, especially by addressing gaps in current connections. Supporting the adoption of e-assist transport choices – such as e-bikes – must also be prioritized through infrastructure investments and continued policy support. 

How we design our community has major implications on how we get around Whistler. Designing and creating compact and complete developments that are well connected to transit and active transport infrastructure is critical to ensuring that Whistler transitions from a predominantly carbased town, to one in which most trips are done by active transport and transit use.

Key initiatives

View the initiatives that support this Big Move goal, and find out the latest progress on each action.

Is there an opportunity for the community to take action on any of these initiatives? Or are they all RMOW-focused?

Public Transit

1. Increase transit service by keeping fares affordable to make transit the preferred personal transport option

2. Enable shorter trip times by infrastructure improvements such as queue jumper, bus acceleration lanes, or dedicated bus lanes

3. Continually improve accessibility, inclusiveness, and the overall travel experience for public transit

4. Continue to improve transit stop infrastructure such as shelters, benches, and accessibility.

5. Engage with the Provincial government and continue to collaborate with neighbouring communities on regional transit

Your turn
Travel around Whistler by bus. Switching a 10-kilometre commute from car to transit could reduce your carbon footprint by 1500 pounds a year. What’s more, travelling by bus will become even cleaner in the future, thanks to BC Transit’s initiative to move towards a fully electric provincial fleet. 

Improving transit access and affordability. Whistler has been bucking the trend of declining transit ridership across much of North America. In fact, from 2015 to 2019, Whistler’s transit system has grown from carrying 2.5 million passengers per year to 3.1 million. Whistler has plans to methodically add more service hours annually through 2023. At the same time, Whistler is focused to ensure transit remains affordable. In January 2020, a pilot project for free transit for Whistler high school was implemented. Learn more.

Lower carbon buses. The RMOW worked with BC Transit to transition from a diesel fleet of buses to 100 per cent compressed natural gas (CNG ) fueled fleet in 2018. Whistler is working with BC Transit to use more renewable natural gas (RNG) in the short-term and be increasingly transitioned to an electric fleet over the medium-term as outlined in the recently published BC Transit Low Carbon Fleet Program.

Active transport

6. Prioritize development and maintenance of active transport infrastructure such as closing gaps in the Valley Trail Network 

7. Scale up use of e-bikes and other e-mobility devices and address barriers to progress

Your turn
Travel by bike or Class 1 e-bike. An e-bike produces roughly 1/6000th of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to a car. That means if you work 200 days a year for 30 years, you will emit the same greenhouse gas over your career commuting with an e-bike compared to just one day with a car. The RMOW introduced a draft e-bike policy that allows for the responsible use of Class 1 pedal-assisted e-bikes on the Valley Trail. Class 2 and 3 e-bikes are allowed on roads and the highway. Learn more about e-bike classes. 

E-bike draft policy. Whistler Council supported a draft policy for e-bikes in 2019. The policy allows Class 1 e-bikes on the Valley Trail, making it easier for people to choose a non-petroleum based way to travel throughout Whistler. Learn more. Monitoring has been underway since 2019. 

More km’s of Valley Trail, safety improvements.

  • 1.8km illuminated segment between Function Junction and Alta Lake Road added in 2021.
  • In the Alta Vista neighbourhood 600m of existing “on street” Valley Trail has been upgraded to “curb separated” Valley Trail.  Lighting has been installed to this segment along with another 200m elsewhere on the Valley Trail in Alta Vista.
  • Additional 950m of Valley Trail proposed to link Alpha Lake Park and Alta Lake Road is in the planning and design phase, with construction anticipated to start in 2024.
  • Closing of several smaller gaps in the Valley Trail are in the planning and design phase. This includes Hwy 99 at Bayshores, the Blackcomb Way/Nancy Greene Drive intersection, and the Hwy 99/Nesters Road intersection just north of Nester’s shopping area.

Learn more about how the RMOW is working to enhance transportation in Whistler, including encouraging clean and active transportation.

Land use considerations

8. Incentivize the development of compact neighbourhood nodes, and ensure new development is connected to transit and active transport infrastructure

9. Continued commitment to ensuring that Whistler is made up of increasingly complete and compact neighbourhood

  • Between 4,200 tCO2e and 6,300 tCO2e below 2019
  • Between 3% and 5% reduction below Business as Usual 

(Add links based on Appendix B content)

  • Whistler Transportation Action Plan 2018 – 2028
  • E-mobility device policy

Official Community Plan – related goals and policies


Public Transit

  • – Work with regional passenger carriers and provincial regulatory bodies to encourage greater frequency and more affordable choices for regional bus travel
  • – Support the expansion, promotion and increased convenience of mass transportation services between Vancouver and Whistler
  • – Strategically expand transit system service levels and frequency where possible and affordable.

Active Transport

  • – Prioritize the recommendations of and regularly update the Whistler Transportation Cycling Plan and the Whistler Recreational Cycling Plan in planning for the pedestrian and bicycle network
  • – Explore opportunities to structure local incentives to support electric vehicle use within and to/from Whistler.(i.e. preferred or reduced parking fees for electric vehicles)

Land use considerations

  • – Continued commitment to ensuring that Whistler is made up of increasingly complete and compact neighbourhoods
  • – Ensure that whenever possible, new development or significant redevelopment is concentrated in existing neighbourhoods or settled areas that are well-served by transit, pedestrian and cycling routes, amenities and services; and are characterized by increased residential density.
  • – Proposals for significant new development or redevelopment should be required to quantify future GHG emissions and energy consumption impacts (including transportation-based) and incorporate measures to minimize and/or mitigate projected increases

  • Lead: RMOW Transit and Transportation Demand Management
  • Support: Environmental Stewardship, Planning, Infrastructure Services (Roads)
  • Partnerships: Transportation Advisory Group (TAG), BC Government, Municipalities within the Sea to Sky Corridor, BC Transit, Translink 


Climate and Environment

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