EDITOR,The No. 98 Squamish Commuter transit service ends this month. This loss takes the Sea to Sky community back to where we were in the 1990s. We are where the Sunshine Coast was in the 1980s. We are back where the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado (Aspen) and the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia were in the 1970s.
Loss of the Squamish Commuter puts more than 100 full-time and many part-time and seasonal workers into cars and vans. More vehicles will be driven on our mountain highway by tired people, in bad weather. We hope and pray that there are no more fatal accidents.
Whistler residents will be affected more by the loss of the Squamish Commuter than those in Squamish. Last winter about 420 return trips each month were made by Whistler residents. High school and university students, seniors and seasonal workers used the bus to get to Squamish.
Many people in Whistler used the bus but, since few used it regularly, they will not be in a position to organize car or van pools. Most of them cannot afford to buy a car. If you've used the Greyhound to get to Squamish, you know that it doesn't stop near the high school, the universities or the hospital.
The taxpayers of Whistler will also be taking quite a hit. A lot of attention was paid to the $200,000 that Whistler taxpayers contributed to the Squamish Commuter. Few asked what happened to the $1 million spent by the Squamish Commuter. Much of it ended up in Whistler.
A 2010 presentation by B.C. Transit indicates that 10 per cent went toward operating costs for the new Whistler transit facility. Eighteen per cent went toward debt servicing on the facility.
That is $280,000 in lost annual revenue to the new Whistler transit facility. This does not include repairs and maintenance done on Squamish Commuter buses or loss of employment for Whistler bus drivers.
Whistler taxpayers have saved the $200,000 they contributed to the Squamish Commuter but will now have to make up more than $280,000 in annual revenue that the Squamish Commuter once brought to the Whistler transit facility.
Whistler taxpayers will be paying more than $280,000 per year to deny transit to their students, seniors and seasonal workers while saving the $200,000 that could have kept the buses running.
Isn't it time for all elected officials to sit down together and figure out how to provide public transit for the whole corridor? If we regress much further we will be back to steamships and steam trains to connect us from Vancouver to Whistler.
For more on public transit in the Sea to Sky Corridor visit Pemberton Whistler Squamish Bus on Facebook, www.facebook.com/transit99?v=wall Murray GambleSquamish