Bus complaints are up this 

Over 20,000 people taking the bus a day may be affecting quality of service

More people are complaining about the bus system this year compared to last year, according to Whistler Transit Ltd. manager Scott Burley.

The complaints range from buses being late, to crowded buses not picking people up at stops, to bus fare machines not working properly.

In response to these complaints, Burley wants to remind riders that the Whistler and Valley Transit System (WAVE) is hauling an average 20,750 people a day – and only 200 people a day are not happy with the service.

“We apologize for the delay. Just realize our guys are out there doing the absolute best they can in the conditions they work in,” said Burley.

“The schedule is built for a nice afternoon in October. We can’t schedule for snow, otherwise it would just be prohibitive,” adding that weather, other drivers on the road not prepared for the weather, and high ridership are the main reasons for the problems.

Burley says when it starts to snow heavily Whistler Transit Ltd. drivers are encouraged to slow down, take their time, and be careful.

“Our first mandate is we are going to get you there, we are going to get you there safely, but we are probably going to get you there late,” said Burley.

“It is much better to get your passengers to the far end late and alive than not get there at all.”

The WAVE transit system is a three-way partnership between Whistler Transit Ltd., the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and BC Transit.

Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said the municipality is aware of the problem and have been having urgent discussions over the past two or three weeks.

“I think the service level has deteriorated somewhat this year,” said Wilhelm-Morden.

“We have been talking about this internally and our senior staff have been meeting with both the operating company – Whistler Transit – and with BC Transit to address these various concerns,” she said.

Wilhelm-Morden added that more meetings are planned to get an update on what BC Transit and Whistler Transit are doing to fix the situation, particularly with the large number of fare boxes and pass readers that are breaking down.

She said this is a concern because the municipality is potentially losing significant amounts of money by not properly collecting fares.

However Brian Barnett, general manager of environmental services for the municipality, said the municipality is tracking the lost revenue and anticipate being fully reimbursed at no cost to Whistler taxpayers.

Barnett added: “Overwhelmingly, people are satisfied with the system because there is such high use of it.”

He said Whistler has the number one transit system in the country in terms of ridership, and one of the lowest fares in the country.

“I want to really emphasize as clear as I can that on a statistical basis, on a factual basis, the system is greatly appreciated because of its high use, as opposed to a poor system that people have reason to complain about,” said Barnett.

Whistler transported 21,347 people on average over the Christmas holiday, up three per cent from last year’s record-breaking numbers.

Whistler will be receiving either buses or funding from the Ministry of Transportation as part of the provincial government’s new transit plan upgrade announced Jan. 14.

“I don’t know how many or in what form you’ll be receiving it, but Whistler will definitely be receiving something from the transit plan,” said Tamara Little, communication director for the Ministry of Transportation.

The transit plan involves $14 billion in new funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the province.

Already, the government has earmarked $10.3 billion for four new rapid transit lines in Metro Vancouver; $1.2 billion for a new RapidBus BC service along major routes in the high-growth urban centres of Kelowna, Victoria and Metro Vancouver; and $1.6 billion to provide 1,500 clean energy buses and related maintenance infrastructure to communities across the province.

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