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Public transit remains key to transportation plan

VANOC asking people to practice Olympic-time commute in January

Olympic organizers are asking Sea to Sky residents to work from home, think twice about using their cars and give transit a try as more details of the $157 million 2010 transportation plan were unveiled Wednesday.

They also revealed some measures to encourage residents to get friends up to the resort before and after the Games, and even during, in the face of rising concerns over Olympic aversion. It is expected that business will be down three per cent this year over last.

"Whistler is open for business during the Games," said Terry Wright, executive vice president Games operations for the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) during a media briefing.

"In general this should be, and by all indications this will be, a peak time in terms of visitation to the resort."

VANOC is currently working on freeing up more day skier parking on either side of the Olympics in an effort to help get people to Whistler.

Ninety per cent of Whistler Blackcomb will be open for skiing and season's passes are discounted this year.

"We are working with the town to add additional day skier parking pre- and post-Games to offset some of the parking loss as our overlay operations go into effect in December and January," said Wright.

Virtually all the day skier parking lots have been taken over by VANOC at Games time and there will be almost no public parking in Whistler. Traffic needs to be reduced by 30 per cent for the Olympic transportation plan to run smoothly.

Wright also confirmed at this week's transportation plan update that there would be a checkpoint at Alice Lake from Feb. 11 to 28 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Staff at the checkpoint will make sure that anyone travelling between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. has a place to park in Whistler.

At the transportation briefing in March it was suggested the checkpoint would operate from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.

If you plan to travel inside the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. window you must have an official pass, which is fully transferable between vehicles. Visitors will need hotel check-in confirmation.

The passes will be mailed out to Whistler property owners in November. Each residence will get two. Tenants and businesses can apply for one at distribution offices set up in Squamish, Vancouver, Whistler and Pemberton.

Taxis, limos, emergency responders, buses and some others will not need permits.

The highway will have two lanes northbound and one southbound in the mornings and two lanes southbound and one northbound in the afternoons from Feb. 4 to March.1

There will be enhanced snow management and tow truck and response units from Feb. 10 to March 1.

Local vehicle permits will also be required in some areas, including Upper Nordic Drive, Glacier Drive and Glacier Lane, London Lane, Lake Placid Drive East and West, and the Gateway Loop.

All permits will be neighbourhood-specific and in effect Feb. 4 to 28. There will be checkpoints at Glacier Lane and Glacier Drive.

Neighbourhood permits will also be mailed to Whistler property owners and others who need them may apply at a distribution office.

Ziptrek and Canadian Snowmobile Adventures will continue operations during the Games.

VANOC is hoping people living near venue sites will take up an Olympic Challenge in January where communities will try out their Olympic-time commute every Friday to see how it goes.

"This is to begin to practice what we need the community to help us with during the Games," said Wright.

"By all accounts over the last eight or nine years I have worked on this project whenever we have needed the community to step up, the community has indeed stepped up."

The delivery window for goods and services during the Olympics has also widened so that large deliveries must be made from midnight to 6 a.m. Feb. 11 to 28 in the village and between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. outside Whistler Village.

There will also be some opportunity for small-scale deliveries in the village between noon and 3 p.m.

Public transportation will be the way to go, with buses in Whistler being run on a 24/7 schedule and capacity being increased from 39 to 135 buses. A day ticket in Whistler will cost $2; a special discounted souvenir pass will be $38.50.

A pass for the Whistler -Squamish commute will be $95, with a single ride costing $10. The pass is also valid on Whistler transit.

A pass for the Pemberton-Whistler commute will be $50 and a single ride will be $6. It is also valid on Whistler transit.

There will also be regular bus service from Pinecrest and Black Tusk. Service will be every 40 minutes from 5 a.m. until midnight.

Residents going to Olympic venues will use Whistler transit except if travelling to the Nordic venue in the Callaghan. In that case board a bus to the VANOC Transportation Mall on Lots 1 through 5. From the mall, catch an Olympic Bus Network (OBN) shuttle.

There will be a transit bus acting as a shuttle between the Nordic venue at the Callaghan and the resort.

But, said Wright, it is not clear how many spectators will leave the Callaghan to go into Whistler, as many of them staying in Vancouver are facing 12-hour days. Most will board buses around 6:30 a.m. in Vancouver for a 10 a.m. start. They will leave the venue at the end of the spectator day at around 3 to 4 p.m.

"If they do go on the Whistler Express, which goes to and from the Callaghan, we are advising them to make arrangements for their transport back (to Vancouver) with private carriers," said Wright.

"We have asked private carriers to look at having some standby capacity in Whistler in the late hours to facilitate that, but we don't expect it to be the rule, more the exception."

A new Whistler shuttle service was announced Monday that's aimed at this type of guest. Ridebooker.com will run buses between Vancouver and Whistler with a one-way ticket costing $35 and a round trip $70.

It will leave Vancouver as early as 6:30 a.m. and return as late as 11 p.m. It will run from Feb. 1 to March 2.

"This is a cost-effective and flexible way for the Olympic visitors and regional guests to experience the medals ceremonies, cultural events and the incredible Olympic atmosphere that will be Whistler during the Games," said Dave Clark, Tourism Whistler's senior manager of visitor services. To book it go to www.ridebooker.com .

Bookings on the Olympic Bus Network will begin Nov. 24 on www.vancouver2010.com. After Jan. 4, ticket prices on the OBN will double.

For those travelling to Vancouver from the Sea to Sky corridor to see events the best way is to ride-share in a vehicle or take a bus. Once in Vancouver, park at a commercial lot and take transit. Your event ticket allows you to ride transit for free.

In Vancouver road closures will be progressive from mid January to March 1. The Olympic lanes will be in effect from Feb. 4 to March 1.

Parking and shopping restrictions will start Feb. 4 and go until March 1.

Pedestrian corridors will be set up from Feb. 12 to Feb. 28.

Temporary truck routes will be in effect Feb. 1 to Feb. 28.

There will be several departure hub locations in the Lower Mainland for those heading to Cypress, the 2010 snowboard and freestyle venue, and Whistler.

For Cypress spectators can go to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Capilano University and Lonsdale Quay. There is no parking at the Quay, which is also the Lower Mainland hub for people going to the Whistler Sliding Centre.

For the Nordic venue, the Lower Mainland hub will be BCIT in Burnaby.

The hub for Whistler Creekside, the alpine venue, is Langara College.

The transportation plan will continue to be updated. Go to Travelsmart2010.ca and Whistler2010.com over the coming weeks for more detailed information.

The transportation plan for the Opening and Closing ceremonies will be released in the next few months.

Details of the March 12 to 21 st Paralympic transportation plan were also released.

• There will be no Sea to Sky Highway checkpoint.

• There will be only limited local vehicle permits needed.

• There will be some public parking in Whistler in Lots 1,2,3 available as of March 2, and on Lot 6, as of March 5.

• There will be designated parking for ticket holders with spectators driving up to Whistler and parking at Brandywine at the base of the Callaghan Valley Road and taking a transit bus to venues.

• Public transit in the Sea to Sky corridor is included with events tickets.

• There will still be an Olympic lane on Highway 99.

• Regular winter-service for buses resumes March 1, along with the Games Express on a 15 to 30 minute frequency.

 

 




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