TAG to continue implementation of transportation plan 

Pay parking not a priority for 2002

Piece by piece the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Transportation Advisory Group (TAG) are assembling the elements of the 1999 Whistler Comprehensive Transportation Strategy, the recipe for relieving congestion and improving the quality of life for residents and visitors.

According to Emma DalSanto, the Transportation Demand Management Co-ordinator for TAG, the group has already started to implement the more than 56 items on its task list, starting with the "low hanging fruit."

"By low hanging fruit we mean the objectives that are within easy reach that are easy and inexpensive to implement," said DalSanto, speaking at the AWARE monthly meeting on Feb. 7.

"They are also priorities for the community. If we can do anything with the existing infrastructure, and with the assets we already have, then we’d like to move forward sooner than later."

During the meeting she went through the highlights from the 2001 implementation plan, in which TAG moved forward with five of the 56 initiatives on the task list. She then discussed the seven initiatives proposed for 2002.

Among the initiatives launched last year were the communications strategy, the rideshare program, the creation of a rail task team, the creation of a transportation centre, and the employee bus pass program. TAG also participated on the Whistler Cycling Committee, which is attempting to create a bicycle network plan for the community.

The communications strategy kicked off "The Whistler Way" campaign, which promoted alternatives to single occupancy vehicles such as taking the bus, walking, cycling and car pooling.

"This campaign will be an ongoing thing for us," says DalSanto. "We seem to have an unhealthy attachment to our cars. The moment we turn 16 and get our driver’s licenses we don’t want to walk anywhere, or ride our bikes, or take the bus – the car is the cool way to get there. That’s the kind of attitude we have to counter."

The campaign is modelled after similar campaigns in other towns and cities, notably the TravelWise program in Aspen, Colorado, and the Go Green program in Vancouver.

Next on the list is the rideshare campaign, which has already been successful. The Jack Bell Foundation of Vancouver has helped to sponsor a van and car pooling program for Squamish residents that work in Whistler. Four minivans and one car are already on the road.

"We’re done the feasibility study on a bus service between Squamish and Whistler, and it’s been well-received by both councils. All we need now is the funding," DalSanto says.

"We’re waiting for Feb. 19 to see if the government is going to do anything with our funding, but right now the best we can hope is that it holds steady, which will mean we won’t have the money to expand the service. In the meantime we are going to promote more ride sharing in the corridor."

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