transportation 

Whistler driven to excess Third in a series of stories on the growth of Whistler and other mountain resorts. These stories are intended to complement information found in the municipality’s monitoring program. The municipal planning department will release results from its 1994-95 monitoring program in a few weeks, prior to the second annual Town Hall Meeting in late October. In 1886 Karl Benz cruised around central Germany in the first motor car. A one-cylinder internal-combustion engine propelled this three-wheeler at 13 km/h as Benz merrily putted around town showing off his new invention. In 1908 Henry Ford rolled the first Model-T off the production line and started a North American love affair with cars that has yet to subside. Now, in 1995, Whistler municipal planners are finding out even in this day and age of increasing environmental awareness, the undying love we have for cars is alive and well in Whistler. The results from the Whistler Statistical Survey show Whistler residents definitely like to drive. Of the 4,800 people that answered the question regarding mode of travel 54 per cent of them drive to work. Only 2.6 per cent of that number are passengers meaning 95 per cent of the cars driving to and from work on Whistler's roads only contain one person. According to the survey, Whistler residents have approximately 5 per cent more cars per thousand than the Canadian average. Local traffic is a bigger issue than many people had realized, as our obsession with driving holds a number of implications: Increased air pollution, traffic congestion and parking problems to name three. "We need a long-term vision for transportation in the valley as to how we want people to get around," says Councillor Bill Murray, chair of the RMOW's transportation committee. "We have to develop a plan that will make it in favour of somebody using public transit." Dedicated bus lanes, increased scheduling for transit buses and a more user-friendly transit system are things people have got to start thinking about, Murray says. Ten per cent of the local population take the bus to work, according to the survey. A two-option plan for the expansion of local bus service is being presented at the next council meeting. The first option would have the transit system add two full-time buses and one part-time bus. Frequency to Alpine Meadows would be increased to every 15 minutes while service to Emerald Estates would remain at half-hour intervals. The second option would add one full-time bus and one part-time bus. Costs to the municipality could range anywhere from $70,000 to $200,000 and riders could be looking at a 25 cent fare increase to $1.50. The implications for air quality in the valley are also staggering. In a count conducted 200 metres north of Whistler Creek there were 2.5 times more cars travelling within the Whistler Valley than in 1984 and more than a million more cars travel through Whistler in 1995 than in 1989. Whistler cars do not have to pass an ICBC Air Care test in order to be insured. The amount of smoke going into the local atmosphere is increasing as traffic within the Whistler Valley has increased far more than traffic on the highway between Vancouver and Whistler. "In Whistler it seems to be in most cases it is easier for people to drive and we have to start looking at ways of making it easy not to drive," says Murray.

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