Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

NO-CHARGE SERVICE – A Whitehorse Transit bus travels along Hamilton Blvd. on Apr. 28.

Transit fares are thrown under the bus

The wheels on the buses are going to go round and round – for free.

By Whitehorse Star on May 18, 2022

The wheels on the buses are going to go round and round – for free.

At a special council meeting at noon Tuesday, city council agreed unanimously to make riding the transit system free until at least July 1.

The concept is that encouraging more people to take the bus will help relieve some of the congestion on the Alaska Highway and Two Mile Hill caused by the closure of Robert Service Way due to the Apr. 30 landslide.

Coun. Kirk Cameron championed the idea and ushered its rapid approval through the usually slower-moving municipal process.

The changes took effect this morning.

After Tuesday’s meeeting, Cameron told the Star he broached the idea last Wednesday, and city staff were quick to jump on the concept.

He said they immediately understood it could possibly give residents a reprieve on the traffic jams hitting the highway and Two Mile Hill, with the city’s south access route closed.

Hamilton Boulevard has also seen a noticeable increase in traffic since the landslide, as has Mountainview Drive.

The Route 5 bus, which runs up and down Robert Service Way to Copper Ridge and Lobird, has been the only one directly affected by the closure of Robert Service Way so far.

Cameron said he also thought the project would test how eager people are to find an alternative way to get downtown, with fuel prices soaring.

He called the situation an ideal time to conduct the experiment to see what the changes will mean to the transit system.

“It doesn’t get better than this,” he said.

The bus fare revenue loss to the city is expected to be about $50,000, which will be made up from city reserves.

Anyone with a current transit pass for May should hold on to it, Cameron said, and it will be honoured after paid service returns hopefully later this summer.

“Hang on to your passes,” he said.

Cameron wasn’t sure how that process would work for transit riders who used the city’s new app to purchase their tickets.

“I think it will work for them, but I’m not an apps guy,” he said.

While the current motion approved by council is in effect until July 1, Cameron said, there’s a possibility it could be extended if necessary.

The key factor will be the status of Robert Service Way, he said.

Current estimates say it will be closed for at least another three weeks while remediation and clean-up efforts are expected to begin – but there are no guarantees that deadline will be met.

In particular, Cameron said, if weather conditions are wet over the next few weeks, it could delay the work.If the road isn’t open by July 1, the matter could be returned to council, and it would be its decision to extend it, he said.

Cameron said he’s very happy to see how fast the city moved on the issue.

“My hat’s off to council and staff for this,” he said.

Comments (28)

Up 0 Down 0

Mitch Holder on May 25, 2022 at 11:26 am

@ Kirk Cameron - Moreover, good for you for condescending to your base about your downtown accommodation. Now, can you speak for the rest of the council?

Up 0 Down 0

Mitch Holder on May 25, 2022 at 11:24 am

@ I said pardon - get on a bus and find out. Double the ridership easily. People can't afford gas. Even biking is getting crowded and this is but the tip of the iceberg.

Up 0 Down 0

Mitch Holder on May 25, 2022 at 11:13 am

@ Kirk Cameron - Given how badly you are failing the residents of Whitehorse on housing, I hardly think expressing conceit about your housing options to virtue signal is a responsible way for a city councilor to exemplify the use of transit for the sake of the environment. Most residents didn't have your options and still don't, therefore meaning they do not live downtown. And a lot of them bike ride or walk, mostly because transport services are a joke, kind of like your edgy failure to defend your council who largely does not use the services they espouse that we should. You are preaching to a worn out congregation, friend. Humble yourself.

Up 0 Down 0

Mitch Holder on May 25, 2022 at 10:39 am

@ Big Jay - when you are an editor for the Whitehorse Star, I will take your advice. But you are not. So really, you are a commenter. Be nice if you accepted that.

Up 2 Down 2

BigJay on May 24, 2022 at 8:37 am

Mitch: Maybe a good philosophy going forward would be to reserve comment on any article you have not read in full, so that you don't wind up asking about things that are addressed in the article. Works well for me. Be nice if more of the commenters at the Star tried it.

Up 2 Down 15

Kirk Cameron on May 21, 2022 at 2:59 pm

A few quick facts in response to a number of comments:

1. Some believe I should ride the bus as an "eager beaver Councillor". I don't need to as I consciously decided many years ago to live downtown so I can walk most places where I need to go in town. That'll save one seat on the bus for someone who needs it.
2. I, too, am one of the Sourdoughs as I was born in Whitehorse in the old hospital that was located where today stands the Legislative Assembly Building. I guess that makes me an "eager beaver sourdough Councillor"!
3. The cliff side along the Robert Service Way remains unstable and therefore clearing and removing the slide and allowing traffic to return to this route puts everyone who drives that corridor in danger. We were very lucky that no one or no vehicle was buried in that first slide.

Up 13 Down 1

Valerie ukrainetz on May 21, 2022 at 2:04 pm

As if anyone is going to wake up an extra hour early in the morning with small kids to walk to a who knows where bus stop just to end up standing on an already over crowded bus of high school kids and to get home an hour later than usual every night just to save a few bucks.

Up 8 Down 1

I said pardon on May 21, 2022 at 1:36 pm

Never mind the councillors and politicians riding the bus, it will be interesting to see if the actual ridership numbers increase may 20-July 1 as compared to April 20-may 20.
My prediction is that no increase will occur. The Sunday buses will be as empty as always.

Up 11 Down 4

Anie on May 20, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Yukoner said "Just make the bus free all the time, not like the fees are actually covering anything.". And you are probably correct. The reason that transit is not free is that drivers would have to deal with derelicts, many inebriated, riding the bus all day in order to sit and be warm.

Up 1 Down 6

Mitch on May 20, 2022 at 8:26 am

@ Big Jay - I did catch that after the fact but thank you for pointing it out. Every dollar helps these days.

Up 10 Down 3

BigJay on May 19, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Mitch: Read. The. Article. This isn't hard.

"Anyone with a current transit pass for May should hold on to it, Cameron said, and it will be honoured after paid service returns hopefully later this summer."

Up 12 Down 6

Mitch Holder on May 19, 2022 at 3:15 pm

@ Nell Fenwick - I'm in dude, let's publish a list and ask the public to show them taking the bus. You are invited city council, I still have a buddy pass punch for May, any member of COW municipal council is welcome to ride the bus with me. Unless ANY reporter from the Whitehorse Star (and only the Whitehorse Star) wants to ride with me and look for city councilors "alleviating the tension and crunch by commuting on their own public transit system" That way we can both be late for work.

Up 8 Down 7

Mitch Holder on May 19, 2022 at 2:54 pm

@ Bonanzajoe - I can relate to your sentiment but I reply with a challenge. If you are amongst the colourful 5%, start engaging those who are interested in becoming new Sourdoughs, because believe it or not, there are many younger Yukoners out there who would be glad to learn a thing or two from you. Even me and I've been here 36 years now. The Bushman Bills, Jim Robbs and Chris Caldwell's, our first nations elders, our Johnny John Johns and Van Bibbers, all of these should rekindle the colour and pass it on to a new generation. Some of us will always be Yukoners sir, let us carry the torch when the time comes and try to make you proud.

Up 8 Down 4

Disgusted Taxpayer on May 19, 2022 at 1:13 pm

Good idea Simon on May 18, 2022 at 4:18 pm:

We can all use mountain bikes to navigate the mudslide corridors that are Downtown Whitehorse. We can save on maintenance costs, repairs, road work etc. Get rid of all the road crews etc. We will have the CGC paid for yet!

Up 10 Down 5

Mitch Holder on May 19, 2022 at 12:46 pm

@ Wilf - I disagree somewhat with the electric bus proposal, it works in Vancouver but they never see snow very often and the lowest temp is about -15 degrees C. Now, what you suggest about smaller shuttle busses is a great proposal - we already use these to supplement transport for specialized needs and I always wondered why the city bought Vancouver's giant buses when we only need a couple, supplemented by the shuttles. Less overhead, less emissions, greater flexibility in provision, it is a no brainer.

Up 32 Down 3

Nell Fenwick on May 19, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Let's mine the data from this experiment. For instance, it would be interesting to note how many council members take the bus.

Up 14 Down 13

Mitch Holder on May 19, 2022 at 11:52 am

So, do I get a refund for the rest of the month for my monthly bus pass that now pays for all these extra riders? I should ride my bike? Sweep the lanes, I'm not paying to replace tires again because of broken glass. 40 people together in a bike, yeah, lahdeee dah that sounds fun. Can't wait to wait behind some yuppy who can't decide between going to slow in my lane or messing up traffic. An excuse dressed up as a solution, should stop the bleeding for about a week, if that, which is laughable. We pay these people tp come up with these things...one wonders if we are the ones who are stupid.

Up 9 Down 14

Yukoner on May 19, 2022 at 10:08 am

Just make the bus free all the time, not like the fees are actually covering anything.

Up 31 Down 9

Dave on May 19, 2022 at 6:50 am

What a joke. NOTHING is free with the city of Whitehorse.
Another spoonful of property tax everyone?

Up 9 Down 18

Wilf Carter on May 18, 2022 at 9:46 pm

Our transit system has not been developed for our city. We should have electric driven buses and much smaller ones. How many millions are we losing because of a weak set up transit system. Spending an extra $50 million to house fossil fuel driven buses was a mistake but our mayor at the time would not listen to anyone on the subject. Electric driven buses can be left outside in winter saving us $50 million.

Up 31 Down 12

bonanzajoe on May 18, 2022 at 9:19 pm

You need to go back south Cheechako. The Yukon is for Sourdoughs. But unfortunately, we don't have many of those these days. They've been replaced by liberals and socialists.

Up 30 Down 4

George Moss on May 18, 2022 at 7:41 pm

Ya Daphne I guess you could move to Vancouver or you could go knock on everyone’s door and ask them to not burn wood because the world or at least that part of Whitehorse revolves around you….

Up 27 Down 5

Bingo on May 18, 2022 at 5:31 pm

Nothing is free!

Up 30 Down 5

Max Mack on May 18, 2022 at 4:47 pm

The virtue-signalling never ends, it seems.

I will be impressed when Cameron and the other eager beaver councillors regularly ride the city bus to and from downtown.

Up 33 Down 6

Honesty is such a lonely word… on May 18, 2022 at 4:46 pm

FFS! Nothing is free. The costs will be mitigated by increased taxes or some other offset to recoup the lost revenues.
Stop with the bullshyt! No one here should be fooled by the representations of City Council.

Up 32 Down 13

SH on May 18, 2022 at 4:35 pm

Haha! Hats off to whoever comes up with these article titles...

Up 31 Down 28

Simon on May 18, 2022 at 4:18 pm

Great to hear. Also if you are able, ride a bike.
The other day I was riding up the hill on the bike path and saw about 40 people doing the same thing. It was wonderful.

Up 8 Down 62

Daphne on May 18, 2022 at 4:03 pm

I was wondering can you do something about the wood smoke up in Takhini North?
I can’t breath when all the wood stoves are burning wood it is so thick it is very hard to live up here.

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