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Pemberton shuttle gets the green light

New service provides an alternative to driving Highway 99 in the evening

Pemberton commuters take note: a new nighttime shuttle between Whistler and Spud Valley is starting its service this weekend.

A $6 shuttle will depart from Pemberton and Whistler three times a night, with a fourth ride added on during the weekends.

The service is thanks to Mark Hunter, owner and operator of Pemberton Taxi, who has spent the last few months pushing to get the service going.

On Monday, Hunter got the go ahead from the provincial Passenger Transportation Board for the bus service.  

His application was approved within two weeks of being received by the board, partially because it provides a solution to the drinking and driving problem on Highway 99.

“There really is no other transportation in the evening. So a lot of these workers who work in bars and such, they probably have a drink and then start heading down,” said Hunter.

Currently the WAVE buses stop running before 7 p.m. and the last Greyhound bus to Pemberton is at 9:45 p.m. This presents a problem since so many people commute between the two towns daily for work.

He added the application could not have come through at a better time, since the Pemberton Hotel’s liquor license has been suspended for three weeks for infractions of their liquor license.

“There are going to be a lot of thirsty guys down here wanting to go drinking somewhere,” said Hunter.

The shuttle will start at the Pemberton bus station, stopping at the Petro Canada station, and then head straight to the Whistler bus loop.

It will operate seven days a week, departing from Pemberton at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and 12 p.m., and returning from Whistler at 8:45 p.m., 10:45 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays   an extra run will depart Pemberton at 2 a.m. and return from Whistler at 2:45 a.m.

Hunter added that his main problem has been lining up drivers, since there is such a critical shortage of workers in both Whistler and Pemberton. Only has one driver has been hired so far for the new service.

As far as getting the word out about his new service, Hunter said he hopes to post flyers around Pemberton before Friday.

“And the word will get around real quick once it starts rolling,” he said.  

The current bus can hold up to 24 passengers, though Hunter is considering removing the four seats in the back to make room for skis and snowboards.

Hunter said that he doesn’t foresee the bus ever carrying at capacity this year, but he is hopeful people will take advantage of the new service.

“There are a lot of people who will drive regardless. We’ll just see how it goes,” he said.