The countdown continues.
Even though public transportation went into its February mode, there was a conflict in print and web guidance on service on the route that now stops right at the end of our driveway would begin. Would it start running Monday 2/1 or Wednesday 2/3? So yesterday, Day -11, we punted and drove to our friend Dan’s, parked in his driveway, and took a bus from there. Not much of a test, other than Dan learning that his usual bus doesn’t go to where he wants it to go during February. Which led to a walk across the village and an observation. We are going to be encountering much more cigarette smoke than usual. Skiing was good and afterwards we found the locker we have rented in the village so we don’t have to carry skis back and forth. All was well. And on the way home we saw a Route 101-Nordic Drive bus! They were running.
This morning we were planning on touring in the back country so it took some extra time for me to assemble all my gear…Tobae’s is always ready. In principle there should be a bus every 15 minutes, roughly :09, :24, :39 and :54. We walked out the front door at 8:36. Tobae forgot her pack and had to go back and get it. I’m stressing. But I continued on hoping that I could get the driver to wait just a minute if the bus was on time. Nothing to worry about. There were three people waiting who had been there since 8:05. Tobae arrived in just a minute or so. A few minutes later, say 8:43, here one came. We boarded. The three scanned their passes. I scanned my pass. Tobae inserted her pass into the “insert currency here” slot. It was gone into the lock box.
And so high praise for the other three (less so for me; I was mortified). They were very patient while Tobae discussed the problem with the driver as the bus just sat there. He radioed a supervisor. He got instructions, which changed a couple of times for they had not armed him with things like transfers and special issue forms, but everything got written down. (Leaping ahead Tobae was not the only unfortunate one today and there is a cottage industry at the transit office in verifying stories and handing out fresh passes; we think in due course her bus rides today will not set us back $38.50.) With the paperwork done, the bus could now move. The driver was friendly and talkative. He had arrived from Montreal yesterday. They gave him a bus and a map. This was his first time on the route. It was hard work for him (“it all looks the same, trees, snow, houses, no landmarks, no McDonald’s on the corner so you know to turn”). We all knew what the route was suppose to be so we could help him. We reached exactly the bus stop that I thought we would reach. And we crossed the street to the next bus stop, but it was posted “Closed for February, Use Bus Stop on Highway”, so we walked 50 meters and joined a group of perhaps 15. But coming up the highway was a Route #2 bus with a driver accustomed to old routes. He bypassed us by turning right into the Creekside loop, aka London Lane. But just a couple minutes later a Route #98 bus picked us up after lots of vigorous waving to flag him down. And into the village. Tobae swore that we were parking in Dan’s driveway everyday.
This afternoon went much better. I added my backcountry skis to our locker, but Tobae decided she was hanging on to hers. So I met her at the bus stop maybe 10 minutes after we reached the village. Pretty quickly we were on a Route #1 Creekside Express and were delivered right next to Creekside Grocery. Tobae ran up to buy a loaf of bread and another couple of cartons of ice cream (we have lots of ice cream in the freezer). We went out to the highway bus stop and in just a couple of minutes a Route #101 bus to take us home. Four aboard in all: driver, either supervisor or fellow route-learning driver, and the two of us. About halfway home we caught up with the #101 ahead of us which I saw leave while Tobae was in the grocery store. Just a few minutes and dropped right at our door. Maybe these buses will work?
For now, many drivers who are rookies in Whistler and with most buses having a supervisor on board to help teach the route. Cries out for GPS in place of the supervisors, many of them new to Whistler as well.