2010 transportation plan ‘seems reasonable’ 

Whistler residents asked to be part of team effort during Olympics

The thirst for details of the Olympic transportation plan may not be quenched, but approximately 160 people who attended the first public presentation of the plan in Whistler Monday seemed prepared to contemplate what they'd been served.

The plan, which was released to the media last week, is about 80 per cent complete. Details such as delivery times and what is permitted in specific zones are still being worked out as VANOC and Whistler transportation planners understand the needs of individuals and businesses.

One the fundamental points of the plan presented by Jan Jansen, executive director of 2010 operations for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, is the need to reduce "background traffic" in February 2010. Security measures will lead to several restricted areas and VANOC's use of the day skier parking lots as a transportation mall will mean virtually no public parking in Whistler.

Organizers are anticipating Whistler will have an overnight population of 50,000-55,000 each day of the Olympics, 10-20 per cent more than during Christmas holidays. The Olympic events in Whistler will draw between 10,000 and 58,000 spectators each day.

To handle these numbers a fleet of 135 buses will provide 24-hour a day service throughout Whistler, and to Pemberton and Squamish.

Jansen said it will take a team effort to make the plan work.

Jim Watts, who runs FastPark, suggested a holding area for vehicles on the Taylor Way-Lake Placid loop at Creekside may be controversial.

Vehicles that will be going inside the secured area at Creekside will turn off the highway at Taylor Way and be screened on Lake Placid Road before crossing the highway and entering the secured area.

Watts also wondered whether the bus loop at the gondola transit exchange in the village has the capacity to handle the additional buses that will be in service during the Games.

Still Watts was hopeful.

"A plan has emerged," he said. "It seems reasonable."

Watts's biggest concern is the phasing prior to Feb. 1, 2010. He said if a parking area is being closed prior to Feb. 1 it would make sense to improve transit at that time, rather than wait until February to increase bus service.

Bob Adams, co-owner of The Grocery Store, acknowledged there are still many details to be worked out but his business can work with the plan.

The Grocery Store, which is adjacent to the secured zone surrounding the conference centre, is putting together a list of its suppliers and working with transportation planners to establish a schedule for deliveries during the Games.

While Whistler residents are being encouraged to use buses and the Valley Trail to reduce traffic during the Games, there will be a large contingent of athletes, support staff, technicians, Olympic sponsors and members of the Olympic family traveling around Whistler in private vehicles. But Jansen said these people will also face restrictions and are going to have to figure out their transportation plans ahead of time.

"We're not asking the public to do more than anyone else," Jansen said.

For example, VANOC is working with the IOC and its sponsors "to achieve efficiencies not seen before," Jansen said.

The effort includes VANOC and RMOW planners knowing where Austria House and Norway House are located, and how those groups plan to move around.

Further details on the transportation plan are included in an advertising insert in this paper.

Two more updates to the transportation plan are scheduled for July and November.


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