Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BC Transit Survey - nothing significant proposed

I am underwhelmed by the Report of the BC Transit Independent Review Panel.

The report has a total of 18 recommendations of which few seem to be speaking of any fundamental improvement to the relationship between BC Transit and local government.  Yes, they say there needs to be better communication and cooperation between BC Transit and local government but the reason the problem exists has not changed.

At no point does the report suggest that BC Transit answer to local government and that local government hold any real power over the actions of BC Transit.

Recommendation 7 speaks to the sort of pointless but report filling recommendations brought forward.   Recommendation 7 calls for the development of a strategic communications plan by BC Transit.   It does not really address why this is needed.   I think any communications problems come from the sense of the relationship between BC Transit and local government and this will not change as long as BC Transit does not accept that it should be doing what local governments want.

Many of the recommendations are about BC Transit providing the local governments with the sort of basic information needed to understand how transit is operating.   This really astonishes me, BC Transit needs to be told that they are supposed to let their funding partners know about basic information.

I see more or less nothing substantive in the recommendations that will change the status quo.  I am not convinced in the least that BC Transit is willing to acknowledge the high handed and dysfunctional relationship they have created and as long as they are not willing to acknowledge this, nothing will change.   I think a core recommendation should have related to a need of BC Transit to change the corporate culture and do this with a wholesale change in senior management.

At a minimum the report should have come out with a fairly strong rebuke of how BC Transit is treating local government.

Starting on page 55 there is a discussion and review of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.  The report compares and contrasts different options VRTC - the status quo, a larger local government representation on the VRTC and finally have the CRD govern the VRTC.  They said that it was in their terms of reference to compare and contrast but not make recommendations.

I think the CRD comes out well in the comparison even though the report approaches the status quo as working well when it comes to decision making and planning which it clearly is not or there would not have been this transit review.   I think the CRD should be able to use this report as a good case for taking over local transit completely.

I have some serious issues with the methodology of the survey in Appendix F.  It is a survey that only had 47 total responses but this is represented with nice pie charts and percentages.   It is not correct to express a number as a percentage with such a small sample, representing a result as a percentage should only occur with samples of at least 200.  Percentages add an air accuracy and authority to reports that they do not warrant.

Another problem is that the survey lumps all the transit systems in together.   A small system needs larger support to operate but a system like the Victoria one is more than large enough to not need BC Transit.   The majority of the systems in BC are small systems which means the result of the survey tells you a bit about the interests of the small systems but completely masks the opinions of the large ones.  If all the positive results were for the small systems and the negative ones were from the larger systems, this means the majority of the public is being served by systems that do not have a good relationship with BC Transit.

The Greater Victoria Transit System accounts for about 50% of the total BC Transit ridership but it only had a one in 47 voice in the survey.   The top 7 systems represent 80% of the BC Transit ridership but there is no way to tell in the survey what their relationship is like with BC Transit.    I suspect the results of the survey make thing look better for BC Transit than it really is.

BC Transit systems ranked by ridership in 2010 (Whistler is  2010/11)

  1. Victoria 24,848,830
  2. Kelowna 4,763,139
  3. Kamloops 3,469,666
  4. Whistler 2,764,613 (I can not tell if these numbers include the Olympics)
  5. Nanaimo 2,615,387
  6. Central Fraser 2,341,596
  7. Prince George 1,943,921
  8. Comox Valley 600,128
  9. Campbell River 558,885
  10. Chilliwack 491,358
  11. Sunshine Coast 484,076
  12. Penticton 413,257
  13. Vernon 405,271
  14. Cowichan Valley 380,625 (318,506 local, 62,119 commuter to CRD)
  15. Prince Rupert 366,823
  16. Port Alberni 311,546
  17. Kootenay 300,551
  18. Nelson 273,11
  19. Cranbrook 235,357
  20. Squamish 202,558
  21. Powell River 200,590
  22. Terrace 199,267
  23. Kitimat 143,616
  24. Dawson Creek 137,068
  25. Fort St John 129,201
Post a Comment