Whistler youth not taking back seat when it comes to transit issues 

Teen Advisory Program wants more frequent buses and cheaper fares

Outreach and Drug Prevention Worker

While adults are getting agitated about the pay parking debate, Whistler's youth aren't taking a back seat. With and without a driver's license, members of Whistler's Teen Advisory Program (TAP) listed transportation as one of the most pressing issues affecting them. Rather than submitting their opinions via Letters to the Editor, they're using social media to get the word out.

"We are a reasonable community and I think that if we can come to an appropriate compromise people won't mind paying a sensible cost to use the lots," said Bronwyn Green, a TAP member and 17-year-old student at Whistler Secondary.

Green publicized a protest against pay parking in Whistler on June 4 through her Facebook account.

"We're not denying the fact that services cost money, but paving Lot 5 at this point in time with the numbers for profits of pay parking that we have been presented with is not fiscally responsible," she said.

"I am not necessarily against pay parking but I do believe that if you are going to do it you have to do it right.

"I'm working on another Facebook page to encourage public comments and ideas on the issue. I would like to put together a proposal for Council to consider in their current re-evaluation of the pay parking issue.

"We need to find a happy medium. After being intensely involved with the pay parking issue these past few weeks it has become obvious to me that we need to re-think our community commuting plans.

"The transit state in Whistler is atrocious. For people who can't afford to drive a car the only alternatives are transit, the Valley Trail and hitchhiking. For people whose work hours run late into the night, it isn't safe to be biking along the Valley Trail and is hardly safe along the highway with the lack of street lights.

"Cutting busses after 2 a.m. is fine if you work a nine-to-five job, but Whistler doesn't run on those work hours.

"I would like to see buses every 20-minutes during the morning hours, between six and eleven, and then a cut during the afternoon to once every half-hour. But where the bus schedule gets people to the Village not on every hour and half-hour but on every quarter-after and quarter-to so that they can make it to work on time - most jobs start on the hour or half hour."

Other TAP members have suggested areas of improvement like an express bus from South to North of the Village, and more regular morning and late night service would be great. Since the average Whistler teen's mode of transport is on foot or by bike, many brought up the need for wider and safer sidewalks and an increase in lighting along the Valley Trail.

"Personally, I think Whistler transit is somewhat of a joke," said Sierra Van Straaten, also 17, who commutes from Black Tusk to Whistler daily. "Why is it that teens in Whistler are required to pay $2 for the bus, when Squamish teens only need to pay $1.25? For such an increase in price I would naturally expect more regular, on time buses with a better schedule as well. Why does everything involve a price increase in this?"

Pique has partnered with the Mountain Youth Society (MYS) to bring readers a monthly column that looks at the issues facing our youth aged 13 to 35. MYS promotes and fosters the positive growth and development of youth through the programs and services of their member organizations. Public meetings with guest speakers are held the second Tuesday of each month at Whistler Public Library's Community Room from 3:30-4:30 p.m. If you're interested in writing an article, contact us at mountainyouth@gmail.com.




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