Thursday, January 24, 2013

History of Public Transportation at the Ridge

Willy Nelson's Go All Points Tours currently operates a shuttle service to the Ridge.  Shuttle service is important to the overall operation of winter recreation for several reasons:
  • Parking is limited and on most good weather weekends, particularly when the lifts are operating, the road closes due to parking.
  • Many people would prefer not to drive in the snow.
  • Tourists, particularly Canadians, can stay in downtown hotels with having to drive their own cars, or bring it accross on the ferry.
  • Reduces pollution and wear on the road.
  • Improves "Side Country" experience.

The General Management Plan Hurricane Ridge preferred alternative states "Alternative methods of transportation would be provided."

Unfortunately, ONP officials have recently decided to kneecap the existing shuttle provider by not allowing the service to avoid the often more than hour long wait at the entrance station on busy weekends.

Ideally, he should be able to stop at the entrance station and pick up a full bus load of people waiting in their cars to get in.

The alleged reasons for this decision is fairness to all, and the safety hazard of him driving up the wrong side of the road.  Stopping downhill traffic temporarily using the park employee in the booth seems like a simple solution to the latter problem.  Fairness is in the eye of the beholder, but rewarding those that use public transportation isn't exactly a new phenomenon.

Public transportation has a checkered history at the Ridge.

Clallam Transit operated one trip up and one down for $5 up to 1992. 

In 1993 the bus ran every half hour from 11 am to 3:30. 

1994 and 1995 reverted to one trip a day, now costing $8. 

In 1996 and 1997 Clallam Transit discontinued operation, but starting in February both years a shuttle ran every half hour.  Terry Weed, Clallam Transit director stated uncertainty about road openings was a major reason for the lack of success.

In 1998 there was no bus service, and 1999 the Ridge closed most of the winter due to massive record snowfall.

2000 had once daily service. 

In 2001 the Public Development Authority was created with Public Transportation a priority.  For 2001 and 2002 the bus made two trips up and one trip down.

For 2003 and 2004 the PDA expanded bus service offering three propane buses operating every 45 minutes, with as many as 100 passengers per weekend. "It's a wonderful thing that the service is there.  It helps reduce congestion at the parking lot.  It's good for the Park.  It's good for people who get stuck at the entrance station.  It's a good deal all the way around," said Janis Burger Hurricnane Ridge naturalist.  Barb Maynes, ONP spokesman: "It's very positive.  It's really a great benefit."

In 2005 and 2006 the PDA folded and bus service reverted to two trips daily for $5.

2007 the snow bus operation was doubtful, but finally implemented with a combination of city gas money and volunteer drivers for snow school lesson weekends only. The ONP superintendent states: "Ski bus is a great value and I urge all Hurricane Ridge visitors to consider using it.  Not only will you avoid the challenge of driving on snow and ice, you'll eliminate the bother of looking for a parking space."

There was no bus service in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

For the 2011 and 2012 seven day access trail period Go All Points stepped up to operate the service twice daily for $15 per passenger with 5 day a week service.

An ONP transportation study in 2011 did not recommend winter public transportation to Hurricane Ridge, instead focusing on using existing public transportation connections during the summer months.

To summarize, ONP officials have repeatedly paid lip service in favor of public transportation, but have done nothing to help implement it.  Disallowing the existing service to utilize one of its primary advantages  (cutting in line past the line of cars waiting for parking) is short sighted at best.

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