What about AFFORDABILITY?!!

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By deleted-343 on Apr 05 2008, last modified on Nov 18 2008.

Council to increase Transit Fares

 

Do they care at all about affordability?

 

Effective June 1, Council have agreed for transit fares to be increased - as outlined below:

Cash $2 from $1.50........................................................... 33% increase!

Blackcomb Staff Housing Shuttle…


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That Council adjust transit fares, effective, June 1, 2008, as outlined below:

"Generally, local governments review their fare structure and fare products every few years to ensure the costs of providing the service is balanced with the desire to provide a service that is attractive and affordable."

These other increases average around 15% !!

5-Ride WaveCard eliminated

10-Ride WaveCard $15

20-Ride WaveCard $29

1-Day WaveCard $5

7-Day WaveCard $20

30-Day WaveCard $55

6-Month WaveCard $280

12-Month WaveCard $480

The recommendation includes the elimination the 50 cent fare zone. The special fare zone for the Blackcomb Housing route was introduced to provide Whistler-Blackcomb employees with an affordable option for the relatively short trip from the Village.

Now it's going up 400% to $2

I don't understand why the tourist fare remains free! Not only do employees in Whistler get PAID LESS than in neighbouring environments (though the cost of rents mean many local businesses struggle to increase this - let's not start talking about the mountains wages however...), not only is FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION more expensive, but now TRANSPORT!

Whistler is WIDENING THE GAP between rich and poor - yet is claims to be striving for SUSTAINABILITY?! This is getting beyond ridiculous.

Does ANYONE in council understand ANYTHING about the tenacity it takes MOST Whistlerites to be here? Does ANYONE respect us?

The 'powers that be' of this town are pushing Whistler's entrepreneurs away. They talk about the 'risk takers' that started Whistler... what for the risk takers of today? I for one am almost done.

Too bad Whistler.

Tourists care more about the LEVEL OF SERVICE than they do paying a few cents for bus fare (funny as it may sound, I talk to them - and was one myself a while ago... so know this).

I am pretty sure they would WELCOME paying a fixed fee for 1 week or 2 week pass (the length of most vacations, right?) when they first hop on a bus (with passes also available for purchase through hotels, list ticket locations etc) and as a result get better service because Whistler can afford to take care of its employees.

Does anyone get the fact that happy, well taken care of employees generally make for good employees... and that this generally lends itself to good service.

Whistler - just WHAT in this equation is so hard to comprehend??

The new increased cost of bus fare in Whistler will make the existing too-high cost-of-living for struggling minimum wage workers even higher. At what point will they say "enough!"? If you want to encourage young people to stay in Whistler and manage on the wage rates that businesses say they can afford to pay (I refer to the Chamber's decision not to increase minimum wage earlier this year) then we as a community have to give commuters a break. If buses are free for tourists - why aren't they free for locals? Or at least considerably discounted? If you want to encourage people to stop using their cars, pay for parking, and ride the bus - make it affordable and reliable - and for heaven sake, use more than 5% biodeisal concentrations to fuel them!!

I don't have a car (nor have I ever had one) so I either walk or take the bus to get around town.

A 50 cent increase on my bus trips won't make much difference to me except that it will make my change management a bit easier (loonies and quarters for laundry, twos for the bus).

The free village shuttle does irritate me a bit. We're all paying for busses to drive around in circles every fifteen minutes when the entire shuttle route is what I would consider walking distance (even with groceries or skis or whatever). Why not leave the staff housing route at 50 cents and make the shuttle route 50 cents too?

That's it for the prices. Now on to service levels.

Whistler Transit's service has done downhill in the past year or so. The busses are dirty and run down, most of the drivers are unfriendly and unhelpful, and the buses often don't even bother to show up.

I have had to call cabs several times to get to appointments because the bus didn't come at all. I ended up paying five times the cost just because the bus didn't show up. This angers me and embarasses Whistler.

I have also been forced to pay twice to get home. My friend (from Toronto) and I grabbed a Creekside bus and it ended up being the Spring Creek route; I figured this was no big deal, just loop around and get off on the way back to the village. But no, the bus driver had to be a complete ass and demand another fare when we hadn't even gotten off the bus. Absurd, idiotic, rude, and all sorts of other words and phrases that I'm not supposed to use public.

And back to money.

I suspect that the council doesn't know what it is to be poor. I think the entire Whistler Council should have to survive for a month in Whistler on minimum wage: all transportation, housing, entertainment, liquor, food, medical and dental expenses, on one month's minimum wage and no charity or dinner at the neighbor's allowed; I'd put the same challenge the entire board of directors of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. A little in-your-face reminder of how hard this town can be would do them some good and they could use a little first-hand experience with what it is like to choose between a food bank and going hungry.

You have SO many good points, I'm not sure where to begin! It's late - so I'll be brief.

Service levels are falling because transit has no money and government dropped its support (erh... no comment - as I said it's late...). SO Whistler Transit HAS to find $$. Could someone PLEASE go find me a Visitor who'll object to paying something??

Lets get with it. People who can afford to come here are not going to quiver too much over paying an extra $5/day for public transport. Mu is right - the Village Shuttle Service IS a LUXURY - NOT a need. What are we afraid of? We should be more afraid of the result that will come due to the lack of service in the transit system because there is no money.

So - the drivers. Not very friendly? Perhaps that's because they are just scraping by - and probably have an extra job somewhere to make ends meet. Well. There's this issue in Whistler referred to as affordability........... Novel concept, I know. I said I'd be short and sweet so - AH I have an idea!!!

I have a proposal for the Chamber. Take a meeting to 'spend the budget of a Whistlerite'. Work out the numbers. Work out the returns. Make some phonecalls to landlords as if u were a tenant (could always throw having a pet in for good measure??)

Better still - have Ken and Council join you. And lets film it - make a uView out of it. The Council/Chamber Affordability Challenge. WHAT SAY YOU??! I'll even provide a full outlay for the 'workshop'.

To be honest - this could prove to be a GREAT chance to get to know the REAL Community. What is it "Whistler - Always Real"...??

Some people in the US got a couple members of Congress (all Democrats of course, conservatives conflate material wealth and moral purity so they wouldn't even want to play the Evil Poor) to take the Food Stamp Challenge last year.

On this issue of affordability it's a crazy notion to think that a 'guest' to our resort would balk at the prospect of paying for their transportation.

The free transportation to the corporate entity that employs the low income earners of which the Muni wants to extend the brunt of this increase is INSANE!! As many have commented it adds to the already growing burden of affordability.

Kudos to those who have recommended the council living on the budget of a low income earner... what a brilliant idea!! I suggest this be extended to only to the Chamber but also lodging company/hotel GM's, Restaurant owners and WBR execs! Let's make it the 'Whistler Affordability Challenge'!!

PERFECT... I love it!.

Chamber - if your Citizens Advocacy initiative is up for this, just give me the word and The Citizens Media will get right on it. We would work with you in developing the 'program'...

I think this could be a SUPERB way of helping to unite our Community. Right now there seems to be such a gap between the various 'groups' of Whistler Citizens.

We could directly enroll employees in setting the challenges - and engage as much of the Community as inspired.

Let's identify what the issues of affordability actually are - which can be most easily and effectively remedied?

What are the challenges in finding a workable solution?

What do Chamber/business not know or understand about the life of a typical Whistlerite...?

How about a Citizens' prize for the business that's doing the most!

What are the Chamber already doing to help locals that we don't yet know about?

As a member of the Chamber, you get to hear the latest - IF you get the email blasts - what what about everyone else? What better way to broaden the horizons of our Chamber?

This will be positive. This will be about making Whistler sustainable. When all great minds come together great things can happen.

Uniting WILL empower change.

The ideas are streaming in already. Here's to uniting Whistler - in a way that is real.

Guess what folks.....the proposed increases passed at April 7 th's council meeting.

I suspect we will see more hitch hikers!

Pick 'em up.....they will need the break!

I know a little bit about Transit and how service has declined. The problem, I believe they are facing, is a lack of skilled workers, ie; not enough ticketed mechanics, therefore we are seeing many of these buses (many over the age that Transit would normally replace the units) which in turn requires more money to continue repairing. There is a fiscal reasoning behind Whistler/Blackcomb replacing their groomers after so many hours on the engine and not just because they want their units to look pretty.

I understand that we will see new units arrive before the Olympics but I have no idea if they will be staying in town after the athletes vacate. $2.00 for a ride does not seem so steep a price to me until you also add in all of the other costs one has to pay out just to survive at a minimum standard in Whistler. Even with the top mountains in the world to offer the young and old, we are seeing potential employees not choosing Whistler/Sea to Sky for their choice of their working vacation because of these reasons. Instead of the major companies spending thousands to send their people around the world in an effort to recruit, why not spend that money (and more) in paying our workers the money which they deserve, offer the proper housing, and give them the laundry services so that they will be happy to stay.

The bus fares are only a small part of the problem and I believe to fix this, get to the root, employers had better start paying their employees sufficient amount of wages to live without having to work 3 jobs or more. And no, council is not leading the way with raising Transit prices while wages remain stagnant, they are only adding to the employees' reasoning to slide over to Big White or Revelstoke before it is too late for them to be able to pay for the cross-province trip.

But can the smaller businesses afford higher wages? Commercial rent (just like residential rent) is not cheap in Whistler.

I'm sure there are lots of people that would like to start up businesses in Whistler but they just can't afford the rent. The big property owners don't want to reduce the rent because they have big commercial mortgage payments to make. Leaving spaces empty allows them to write off their Whistler properties as a loss and that, in turn, allows them to reduce their overall profits and tax loads. So, essentially, empty stores in Whistler subsidize the landlord's holdings elsewhere via accounting games. I think this was part of the issue that some people had with putting London Drugs in the village.

Standard amenities (laundromats for example) are hard to operate in Whistler because you need floor space and commercial floor space is expensive here.

Does the Chamber of Commerce have any statistics business budgets in Whistler? Just a simple breakdown of how much you can expect to pay for rent, wages, electricity, legal and accounting services, ... would help clarify a few things. This sort of information would be well within the Chamber's mandate, no?

This is what I have been told the Chamber is about:

"The Chamber is a member based organization and our job is to represent our members by providing support, resources and tools. We do that through offering our programs, services and by advocating as the voice of business on issues that affect our business community." Whistler Chamber of Commerce

This two year study on welfare might be relevant to the affordability discussion (or maybe not).

I'm going a little off topic here but this housing/transportation tool might give people a different look at affordability. There's also a bit of information and discussion.

Yeah yeah, talking to myself again. There's some discussion on the above over at boingboing that might help clarify (or muddy) affordability thoughtds.


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Kudos