Public transit is an important part of communities in British Columbia and around the world. It can connect citizens to their jobs, schools, hospitals, friends, family and much more. Having an effective and efficient public transit system not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it also supports local economies and gives those who might not have other transportation a way to be mobile in their community.
Public transit is a complex subject with multiple stakeholders involved in making decisions. Achieving progress in public transit is also strongly affected by external factors such as economic and demographic change. In 2008, the provincial government launched its Provincial Transit Plan, which laid out projections for funding, ridership growth, and increased service levels. Five years later, it is a good time to reflect upon what has been achieved, what lies ahead and how expectations align with the current transit landscape.
In 2012, my Office released the results of our audit of BC Transit’s ridership growth. As part of this work, we gathered valuable information from a variety of sources that for many reasons, was not included in the report. I felt it important to share this valuable information so I am pleased to release Shaping Transit’s Future in British Columbia, an interactive and informative web-based resource. As with some of our other informational resources (e.g. January 2013’s Health Funding Explained), which are not audits, we produce such work where information may not be publicly available or available in a single and/or easily accessible location. I have also prepared a pdf summary of this report, which is available here.
Because BC Transit has multiple stakeholders across the province and numerous overlapping but not always cohesive guiding documents, we determined that this work would be valuable to legislators, transit planners and British Columbians to understand the challenges involved in achieving sustainable public transit.
In addition to my Office’s 2012 audit of BC Transit, two other independent reports with recommendations for improvement were also published that year: The BC Transit Independent Review Panel’s Modernizing the Partnership and my Office’s Crown Agency Board Governance: BC Transit. As government develops plans to address these recommendations, the information in this resource and the questions for consideration posed throughout should help to maintain focus on key issues. It should also assist municipal governments and other stakeholders as they plan for the future of their transit systems. Not least, the resource will help British Columbians to understand how our transit system functions and how their own choices and actions are shaped by, and in turn help to shape, the province’s transportation future.
Russ Jones, MBA, CA