Public transit systems have a wide range of potential goals and objectives. While each system will articulate and prioritize its goals according to its particular situation and needs, many are widely shared.
Broadly, these fall into three categories: environmental, economic and social goals.
Environmental goals for public transit can include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing air pollution, decreasing resource consumption and protecting natural spaces by reducing the need for road expansion.
Economic goals include improving access to employment opportunities by moving people efficiently to work, reducing travel time and congestion delays for businesses and employees, enhancing regional development opportunities, reducing need for costly road expansion and creating local employment in the transit industry.
Social goals include improving mobility for people without access to other transportation options (such as seniors, people with disabilities, youth, people on low incomes); connecting people to health, social services and recreational facilities to improve quality of life; and enhancing community livability by creating synergies with active transportation modes such as walking and cycling. Public transit is generally the safest mode of travel. Injuries and deaths aboard transit vehicles are a small fraction of those sustained in private motor vehicles or while cycling or walking. There are both economic and social benefits to reducing the number of accidents in passenger transportation, and having people use public transit is one way to do this.
Different communities have different transit goals. BC Transit partners with local governments to run a wide range of transit systems, from small systems where just one or two bus routes operate to medium and larger systems with high frequency service for commuters. Some of the smaller systems are focused primarily on social goals, while larger systems are often more focused on economic and environmental goals.