Business as usual for Perimeter 

Passenger numbers remain strong for airport bus despite new competitor

Two months after Vancouver International Airport bumped bus company Perimeter as the official transporter between Vancouver Airport and Whistler, the company maintains that business is thriving.

According to vice president of operations Mike Cafferky, Perimeter is carrying the bulk of the traffic along the Sea to Sky route, and passenger numbers are on par with last year.

“A lot of our business comes from international wholesalers, and we have very good relationships with them. They’ve worked with us for a great many years, and they understand the reliability of our service,” said Cafferky.

“There are some service distinctions between ourselves and Pacific Coach Lines, and so for the most part, they are sticking with us,” he said.

Perimeter provided bus service between Whistler and Vancouver International Airport for more than 20 years before the airport authority named Pacific Coach Lines (PCL) the new official passenger carrier on Oct. 1, 2007. The new 10-year contract meant that Perimeter had to give up desks inside the airport, which are now leased to PCL.

Since the change, Perimeter has positioned bright green uniformed staff in the lobby areas of both the international and domestic terminals to meet guests and escort them to their bus.

Cafferky said one of the main differences between Perimeter and PCL is Perimeter’s extensive experience working within the Whistler community. This has helped Perimeter deliver effective door-to-door pick up and drop off service for years.

“A lot of the wholesalers book through property management companies using condos, and that gets rather complex because one property can have maybe six different property managers all selling for the same property,” said Cafferky.

“You have to understand where those people need to be taken to check in, and that sort of experiential thing. And they know that we know what we are doing,” he said.

Cafferky said the two bus companies remain friendly competitors, and Perimeter is more concerned with their own service than what PCL is doing.

Darian Tooley, a spokesperson for PCL, confirmed that the working relationship between the two bus services is amicable. She said business has been “soft” for PCL’s new Whistler Skylynx service over the past two months, but the company aims to transport 100,000 passengers within the next year.

Perimeter’s current annual passenger count also rests at 100,000.

Perimeter introduced a local discount of 50 per cent last month that is currently scheduled to go until Dec. 15. Cafferky said based on its success, the discount will likely be extended.

Tooley said that PCL is also planning on offering discounts to residents, though that decision has not been finalized yet.

Tooley said no major complications have come up since PCL started its Whistler service.

“There hasn’t been any difficulties per se, I mean we are in the scheduled motor coach business and have been for years,” said Tooley.

“I think the only difficulty could be that perhaps there is a bit of confusion in the market place, because there seems to be two players. But that is not unusual in other cities or destinations,” she said, adding that the confusion in not with the consumer but with the suppliers, vendors, and hoteliers.

The reason behind the airport authority’s decision to switch from Perimeter to PCL is not clear, but a legal dispute between Perimeter and the Vancouver Airport Authority has been ongoing for two years.

According to Cafferky, Perimeter currently has a legal act against the airport authority, which will go to court in January 2008.

Jordan Humphries, spokesperson for the Vancouver International Airport Authority, would not comment on the specifics of the dispute.

“That is a legal matter, and it is ongoing…   I don’t have anything to say at this time. Hopefully I’ll have more to say when the litigation wraps up,” Humphries said.

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