Expansion in store for Whistler Transit 

Council brief: License plate recognition system coming to day lots

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The Whistler Transit System could soon be getting expanded.

At its July 12 meeting, council authorized staff to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BC Transit authorizing them to seek funding from the province on behalf of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

"What we're really looking at is a two-stage process," explained RMOW transportation demand management coordinator Emma DalSanto in a presentation to council.

"So 2017-18 is just an expansion of service hours, whereas the 2018-19 involves buses, so that's more involved."

The proposed expansion involves increasing service on Whistler's Core Transit Network, and would eventually involve adding three buses to Whistler Transit's fleet.

In this year's provincial budget, the B.C. government committed $12.7 million over the next three years to expand transit throughout the province.

After BC Transit identified the Whistler Transit System as a potential candidate for expansion, an MOU was developed to formalize the process of securing some funding.

The total cost of the expansion initiatives would be about $1.3 million, with the RMOW contributing about $660,000.

Council also authorized staff to endorse BC Transit's Sea to Sky Transit Corridor Study.

The study is a collaboration between BC Transit, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (and its member municipalities) and local First Nations, and will explore the feasibility of the expansion of regional and interregional transit service.

The study was one of the recommendations that came out of the Sea to Sky Transit Future Plan, which was presented to Whistler council back in December.

The plan includes long-term transit strategies for the next 25 years.

AMENDMENT APPROVED TO FINANCIAL PLAN FOR LICENSE PLATE RECOGNITION SYSTEM

Also at the July 12 meeting, council directed staff to bring forward an amendment to its 2016-2020 Five-Year Financial Plan to include an extra $49,627 from the Day Lot Capital Reserve to pay for a mobile licence plate recognition system.

The upgrade is needed to replace the current licence plate reinforcement system, which is nearing the end of its life.

It was reviewed and approved by the Day Lot Committee, which is made up of representatives from Whistler Blackcomb and the RMOW.

The new system automatically scans licence plates in parking lots and on streets using cameras mounted to a vehicle, allowing staff to enforce parking permits, time-limited zones and conduct lot inventories.

The purchase is under $500,000 and doesn't require council approval, but because the money for the system wasn't originally budgeted for, council approval was needed to make a budget amendment.

A minimum of $100,000 is put into the Day Lot Capital Reserve each year, and the fund currently sits at $1.89 million.

From January to May 2016, the day lot meters pulled in $435,699, far exceeding the projected $88,783.

The new system is expected to improve customer service, increase parking revenue, increase mobility and make better use of staff resources.

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