Anyone hoping to catch an afternoon Greyhound to Pemberton after a day of work or skiing in Whistler will no longer be able to rely on the 3:15 p.m. bus leaving the Village as of Thursday (Feb. 28).
However, dozens of local residents have signed on to an 11th-hour petition forwarded to Greyhound with the hope it will reconsider eliminating the bus as part of a province-wide reduction in service levels.
The bus line’s Vancouver-Mount Currie route, one of 15 in B.C. that was approved for minimum frequency reduction by the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) earlier this year, will continue to have buses depart Whistler for Pemberton at 1:15 and 5:45 p.m., but the scheduled trip in between is the one getting the axe.
Pemberton’s M.J. Berthoud organized the petition and collected more than 40 signatures from riders, sending it off to Greyhound two weeks ago. She said none knew about the coming cuts, and neither did employees at the Pemberton Community Centre who sell Greyhound Flex passes.
“They’re all people who are really relying on that 3:15 (bus),” said Berthoud, adding that the 1:15 bus is often empty. She said the 3:15 generally has up to 20 riders, but the number can fluctuate depending on the day.
In the petition’s preamble, Berthoud pointed out that many Pemberton residents work eight-hour shifts that begin at 5 a.m., meaning the 3:15 bus is their best option for getting home at the end of their day.
It’s not clear if Greyhound intends to respond to the petition, or if it has received it at all, as Berthoud said she’s received no confirmation from company officials. Greyhound did not respond to multiple requests for comment over the past 10 days.
However, Greyhound did go well beyond the 21-day public notice requirement for reducing service on the route, since the PTB approved the changes in mid-January.
Among some of those signed to the petition are youths who ride the 3:15 bus regularly to travel between Whistler Blackcomb and their Pemberton home. At least one other, said Berthoud, is a disabled adult who needs the bus to return home from special education classes several days per week.
Berthoud noted that the signatures she collected hardly represent all users of the bus from the Pemberton area.
“I tend to ride it maybe four days a week … but I don’t tend to be there on weekends and I know I missed a number of people who depend on it,” she said.
The Question surveyed about 15 total riders boarding the bus on select days in the past two weeks — none had signed the petition, and just two were aware of the coming service cut.
Pemberton resident Erin Worrod was among those surprised to learn that the 3:15 bus was being dropped. She said she normally car-pools to get to work in Whistler, but that she has used the Greyhound to commute about once per week.
“I just know that would really suck,” Worrod said upon learning of the reduction on Tuesday (Feb. 26). “I’m not a regular rider … but it’s my only way home (when not car-pooling) because I don’t like hitchhiking, and it’s illegal.”
Eleven people boarded the bus on Tuesday, which Worrod said was about the usual amount. She added that she has a guest staying with her in Pemberton who also relies on the Greyhound to get back and forth from Whistler, plus many other friends who do the same.
B.C. Transit’s Pemberton Commuter route remains intact, with buses leaving the Gondola Transit Exchange at 4:45 and 6:05 p.m. in addition to morning service.