PCL strike could be felt during Olympics 

Coach line has exclusive contract to transport passengers from Vancouver airport to Whistler


Pacific Coach Lines has its winter schedule ready, but how long it operates depends largely on whether union members decide to strike.

The bus company runs the only shuttle between Whistler and the Vancouver Airport, as well as bus service between Victoria and Vancouver.

Members of the Canadian Auto Workers voted 91 per cent in favour of striking late last week. The union, representing 127 drivers, mechanics, service staff and ticket agents, can now serve 72-hour strike notice and walk off the job any time in the following 90 days.

A contract between the Canadian Auto Workers and Pacific Coach Lines expired on March 31, 2009. At issue are what union representatives characterize as "major concessions" demanded by PCL including contracting out, wages, benefits and pension contributions.

Thomas Choe, vice-president of operations for Pacific Coach Lines, said a strike could impact operations during the Olympics.

"It depends on the timing of the strike," he said. "If a strike does happen, the question is when will it happen, how long will it happen, you know, that will impact or not impact the Olympic Games, but certainly it's concerning at this time."

If Pacific Coach Lines employees don't strike during the Games the company will be running 13 shuttles a day between Feb. 12 and March 1. The first bus of the day leaves downtown Vancouver at 6:30 a.m. and arrives in Whistler Village at 9 a.m.

The last bus of the day will leave Vancouver at 11 p.m. and arrive in the village at 2 a.m., with buses leaving every hour except at 9 a.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Service from Whistler to Vancouver during the Games will see the first Pacific Coach Lines bus leave Whistler Village at 3 a.m. for an arrival downtown at 5:15 a.m. and an airport arrival at 5:45 a.m. Buses will leave every hour between 5 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., at which point they'll leave at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Choe also said that Pacific Coach Lines will be using a new loop during the Games. Instead of dropping people off in the loop behind Tommy Africa's and the Whistler Clearance Centre, buses will enter the village via Village Gate Boulevard, then make a left on Northlands Boulevard, then a right on Main Street, stopping at the 7-Eleven convenience store.

Overall winter service exclusive of the Olympics will see Pacific Coach Lines running a bus from the Vancouver Airport once almost every hour. The first bus runs at 8:30 a.m. and stops at a downtown Vancouver hotel and the Squamish Adventure Centre and arrives in Whistler Village at 11:30 a.m.

Starting at 10 a.m. one bus will run every hour from the Vancouver Airport until 5 p.m., when service will start running every two hours. One-way fare is $36.75 and return fare is $73.50 including tax.

From Whistler to Vancouver, service will see a bus leave the village at 3 a.m., then one every hour from 5 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. After that they'll run at 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

While Pacific Coach Lines will be altering its schedule it's business as usual for Greyhound, which doesn't yet anticipate changes to its service but is still preparing for the Games.

Greyhound recently eliminated its direct service to Coquitlam, leaving commuters with eight departures from Whistler Village throughout the day.

Buses leave at 8:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Greyhound spokesman Tim Stokes doesn't anticipate any changes in fares during the Games and he said there will be extra buses to meet demand.

Pemberton Taxi expects to start running a winter shuttle to Whistler starting on Dec. 18, but won't be running it during the Games. It will resume service after the Olympics and Paralympics and end in April.

An Olympic Bus Network will run from Pemberton during the Games.

Once it starts Pemberton Taxi will run a shuttle from Pemberton into Whistler at 7:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., with the latter service running on Friday and Saturday nights only. From Whistler to Pemberton the shuttle will leave at 8 p.m., 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. The plan is to depart from the Pemberton Petro-Canada and go to Village Gate Boulevard.



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