City tests express bus routes for Games

Despite a few bugs in the test runs, the city expects its express bus service to whisk spectators and volunteers around Whitehorse during the Canada…

Despite a few bugs in the test runs, the city expects its express bus service to whisk spectators and volunteers around Whitehorse during the Canada Winter Games.

With the help of four new buses, the city plans to run 30-minute loops from Whitehorse subdivisions to Games venues such as the Canada Games Centre and Yukon College.

The city put the idea out for a five-day trial run, from December 18 to 23.

The results were encouraging, said city transit services manager Dave Muir.

“At this time, the new buses were reported to have run very well,” said Muir.

“Staff love them and all feedback from our customers tell us they love them.

“Everybody seems very happy with them.”

However, the system still has a few kinks to work out.

“Changing the route a bit to try and shave a few minutes off here and there and changing part of the route to make it more accessible to some of our customers will be needed,” said Muir.

Although the city is calling it a success, it’s too early to tell if the new buses are drawing riders.

“Overall ridership wasn’t great,” said Muir.

“We weren’t overflowing with people, however, given a one-week test period you don’t expect to get great results.”

The two Games venues not covered by the express transit service are Mt. Sima and the Grey Mountain Rifle and Pistol Club.

During the Games, the city will offer Games-Time bus passes good for all existing bus routes as well as the Games express routes.

The $20 passes will be available to both visitors and residents of Whitehorse.

The addition of the new buses and the changes in transit schedules come at a time when there is much controversy centred on transit service in Whitehorse.

In 2003, transit service levels were cut by about 35 per cent and peak loop times were set at 35 minutes with off-peak loop times set at 70 minutes.

City transit services have used the trial express service run to collect data that they will present to council during the 2008 budget process.

“Hopefully this will lead to improving our transit service overall,” said Muir.