BC Transit operates service in 81 B.C. communities

Local voices likely for BC Transit

Local elected officials should have more say on changes that affect their local service, a review of BC Transit operations has recommended.

Local elected officials should get seats on the BC Transit board and have more say on changes that affect their local service, a review of BC Transit operations has recommended.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom appointed a review team in March after complaints that the provincially appointed BC Transit board was making costly changes without consulting the communities whose fares and property taxes cover more than half the cost of transit service.

Joe Stanhope, chair of the Nanaimo Regional District, was on hand with Lekstrom to release the report Tuesday. Stanhope said the recommendations of the review team are “exactly what we wanted.

“There were some problems, and the basic problems were communications,” he said.

Stanhope raised the alarm in 2011 after BC Transit notified local officials of a doubling of management fees, after municipalities had adopted their budgets for the year. Nanaimo also protested a plan to move some of the community’s new buses out and replace them with older ones.

The B.C. government pays 47 per cent of costs for BC Transit service in partnership with 58 local governments in B.C. BC Transit has a target to double its ridership to 100 million passenger trips by 2018.

When he ordered the review, Lekstrom ruled out any increase in the provincial share of funding.

On Tuesday he declined to comment on specific recommendations until they have been reviewed by local communities and discussed at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention this fall.

Recommendations include:

• a local government advisory panel to consult on system-wide capital expenditures

• local governments should share information on long-term transit budget changes, land use and zoning decisions

• the province should amend the BC Transit Act to allow multi-year operating agreements

• BC Transit should report to municipalities twice a year ridership, cost per capita, passengers per capita and other performance measures.