It is likely that Whistler never tires of hearing about how it is a special place — different when compared to towns of a similar size throughout the province.
When it comes to the recent announcement of cuts to service by Greyhound throughout British Columbia, the same thing can be said. Whistler is different.
While much of the media reporting on this subject so far has presupposed that because the bus company can cut route frequency to a new minimum, it will, no questions asked. But as it turns out, with respect to Whistler, Greyhound is interested in receiving input from local officials about when and where to cut.
Despite the fact that Greyhound can reduce its trips to Whistler from Vancouver by half, to four from eight round trips a day, as of Feb. 6, it looks unlikely it will do so immediately.
Obviously it comes down to money. This time of year is the gravy train, or bus if you prefer, for the local tourism industry. That includes Greyhound buses coming to and from the city. It is in the slower times of the year, when the minimum of eight buses a day is prohibitive from a business perspective, that cuts will come.
You see, Whistler is different because when it is busy here, it is profitable to transport people to and from the resort, meaning it is more than likely to see above-the-minimum route frequency at certain times of the year.
Recent data from the Whistler Housing Authority has also shown that only 18 per cent of the local workforce commute to the resort on a daily basis. Those are the riders to be concerned from a planning perspective. Depending on what Greyhound changes its route times to, this could mean the loss of a job for some as a result.
Like Coun. Jack Crompton, we remain hopeful, although likely more cautiously so, that by reaching out and asking for input on scheduling, the company will be flexible as a result.
But it is the much smaller communities of Pemberton and Mount Currie and the surrounding rural areas of the Spud Valley that are the real cause for concern. While Whistler is protected by profitability, Pemberton, like the rest of rural British Columbia, will see the mobility of residents who don’t own vehicles limited.
That limits people’s access to things like community and health services, which if already in a rural area, compounds the problem.
And in a regime where transportation is heavily regulated by the Passenger Transportation Board, where the main player is already saying it is losing millions each year, it is unlikely there is another private sector player who would be willing to step in and offer that service to rural communities like Pemberton.
What ends up happening is smaller municipalities and regions end up under pressure to provide public transit as a result, meaning it is the local taxpayers who will eventually be forced to foot the bill.