Council hears Transit ridership rebounds to pre-pandemic numbers
Whistler’s free weekend and holiday summer transit program will include the Victoria Day and Thanksgiving weekends, and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this year.
Tuesday evening, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) Council received a Whistler Transit System Update Report highlighting recent adjustments.
“In my view, transit is one of the most important things we can push for as we work to reduce greenhouse gases and provide workers access to an affordable, reliable means of moving about town,” says Mayor Jack Crompton. “We will continue to lobby for funds to expand our service and we are thankful for the creativity of RMOW staff who are reallocating driver time and routes to ensure our system works for our people.”
The additional free weekends were originally recommended by the Transportation Advisory Group (TAG) prior to the pandemic, but could not be implemented during the years of COVID-19 restrictions. With ridership back at 2019 levels, the shift has been made to accommodate regular summer and holiday tourism patterns. It will assist the resort in achieving its Big Moves Climate Action goals, and is funded through Day Lot 1- 5 revenues, through the Community Transportation Initiative Fund (CTIF).
Council also received the Whistler 10 Valley Express Service Review, reporting on community engagement done on the popular route in December. It has resulted in increasing morning and afternoon frequency on the Route 10-Valley Express for summer 2023, starting Saturday June 17. Three additional Route 7 trips will also be added. This additional service is possible due to shifting winter transit service hours to these well-used routes.
Other impactful changes riders should watch for:
- RMOW staff are working with BC Transit to create an annual base transit schedule to which extra service will be added seasonally. This is intended to make year-round service more predictable and the transit schedule easier to understand.
- Umo electronic fare technology makes it easier to take transit and expanding payment options will roll out provincewide this year, arriving in Whistler this Fall. It will add pre-pay cards and pay-by-phone payment options. Council approved a review of the fee structure, timed to land with the new system, and also approved converting monthly pass products to 30-day passes customers could begin using at any point in the month, rather than restricting to the start of the month, per the current monthly pass. On-board credit card and debit tap pay will also follow at a later date.
- Route 10-Valley Express will continue with its Whistler Village and Function Junction route deviations. At the Village, this includes travelling along Lorimer Road, Northlands Boulevard, and Village Gate Boulevard and at Function Junction along Millar Creek Road.
Finally, Council was disappointed to learn that the 5000-hour service expansion requested in September was not approved by BC Transit, which did not receive additional funding in the provincial budget.
The Whistler Transit System is provided through a partnership between BC Transit and the RMOW, and Whistler Transit Ltd. is contracted to operate the system. The RMOW, through the Transit Management Advisory Committee (TMAC) appointed by Council, works closely with BC Transit and Whistler Transit Ltd. to guide the long-term development and implementation of system goals.