If Sea to Sky Corridor leaders and their counterparts at B.C. Transit ever needed a kick-start to their efforts to implement publicly run, intercity transit in the corridor, this would certainly qualify.
Unquestionably, it would be easier for all involved if providing regular bus transportation between Vancouver and Mount Currie (with stops in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton) could be operated profitably, reliably and (from riders’ perspective) affordably by the private sector. But Greyhound’s application to slash its service in the corridor virtually in half — from seven runs per day between Vancouver and Squamish and eight between Vancouver and Whistler to four each — is a clear indication that corridor residents can’t rely entirely on free enterprise to deliver people and goods up and down the Sea to Sky quickly, conveniently and profitably.
Between 2004 and 2011, a commuter bus operated between Whistler and Squamish thanks in large part to co-operation between the two communities, providing much-needed service, especially to Squamish workers working in Whistler’s hospitality industry. When Whistler discontinued its portion of the funding, Squamish provided “bridge” funding for a few months while seeking a more long-term solution from B.C. Transit. None was forthcoming.
Now is the time for corridor leaders — from the Lil’wat Nation to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District to the corridor municipalities to B.C. Transit and yes, perhaps even TransLink — to put their heads together and make this work. What’s needed, mostly, is the establishment of a regional transit authority with the power to levy a gasoline tax to help pay for the service.
It’s a well-known fact that no publicly run transit service will ever entirely pay for itself, but that shouldn’t be a hindrance. The Roaring Fork Transit Authority has provided safe, reliable, affordable and award-winning bus transportation on Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, Colo., since 1983. Eighteen months ago, the Bow Valley Regional Transit Commission was established with the aim of providing the communities of Banff, Canmore and Exshaw, Alta., with regularly scheduled bus transit service.
Why are we so far behind? That’s a tough one to answer, but it seems to this writer that all that’s really needed is a bit of time, a plan and the political will.
And — oh, yeah — a good, swift kick in the pants of B.C. Transit officials and our elected leaders probably wouldn’t hurt, either.
— David Burke