CRD Aims to Take Over Transit
May 23, 2012
(News Release) VICTORIA — The Capital Regional District (CRD) board of directors today recommended that the CRD assume the role of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission (VRTC).
If adopted, the recommendation will provide the CRD with authority and responsibility for regional transit, enabling increased collaboration and leadership on major transportation decisions that impact the region. The recommendation was presented at a joint meeting with the CRD Transportation Select Committee and the BC Transit Independent Review Panel.
On June 15, 2011, the CRD Board submitted a resolution requesting that the Minister responsible for BC Transit allow the CRD board to assume the authority of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. The board also asked the Minister responsible for the Local Government Act to grant the CRD additional transit-related powers.
In support of the priority to take action to improve Regional Transportation, the CRD board has established a regional transportation select committee. The function of the committee is to make recommendations to the board on improving current transportation and public transit governance and funding arrangements to inform transportation planning and investment decisions.
Submission to the BC Transit Independent Review Panel
In response to the request from the CRD board, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure appointed a BC Transit independent review panel that will receive submission and will specifically report on the pros and cons of the CRD's request.
Why the CRD Board Should Assume the Role of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission
The CRD board has identified regional transportation and planning as a strategic priority. With respect to regional transit, the board has specifically identified the need to:
- Improve confidence in regional governance on matters of regional interest such as transit
- Increase the level of effective and transparent regional cooperation on transit
- Integrate the regional transportation and land use system to achieve the goals and objectives of the regional growth strategy (RGS) and its strategic priorities
- Advance defined regional transportation goals, agreed on by all member municipalities and electoral areas
- Negotiate directly with the provincial government to determine transportation and transit investment priorities
- Negotiate directly with BC Transit and the province to secure and agree on equitable future funding
- Directly pursue alternative local funding options and partnership funding agreements
- Ensure that key transportation decisions and/or investments do not compromise the regional network with unintended consequences
The CRD wishes to assume regional transit governance for the following reasons:
Under the current governance structure, establishing the VRTC results in local taxation without representation from all the CRD municipalities and the Juan de Fuca electoral area that participate in the VRTC service area.
Currently, the CRD and VRTC are not adequately consulted on the BC Transit capital plan that enables transit service in the region. Further, as local representatives they are unable to make recommendations on decisions with respect to capital investment that may influence operating costs, both of which negatively impact the CRD's ability to effectively implement the decisions made by the VRTC and BC Transit board.
VRTC relies on the advice from BC Transit staff and has no independent staff to ensure local interests are adequately represented and assessed. The CRD, however, has the capacity and experience to provide independent financial, managerial and planning advice in support of the local decision makers. The CRD also already successfully participates with provincial agencies and authorities on major investments and capital planning.
There is no annual operating agreement between BC Transit and local government within the CRD. Additionally, there is no service agreement or memorandum of understanding that adequately defines local service expectations for contribution agreements such as the Universal Pass Program (UPASS). The CRD, however, is legislatively enabled to establish services and regularly defines service levels and expectations as part of its core function. Further, the CRD governance structure provides a weighted representative decision making model that is more representative and equitable than the VRTC structure.
The Future of Transit Service Within the CRD
The CRD has put forward the following recommendations:
The transit system be integrated with other transportation modes and be supported and aligned with the policies that guide significant land use decisions as set out in the CRD RGS.
Planning and policy direction for the regional transit system be the responsibility of the CRD, and decisions with respect to overall regulation and oversight be the responsibility of the board.
The regional transportation vision is defined in TravelChoices, the regional transportation strategy for the CRD. This vision is currently being implemented through various CRD regional transportation initiatives. All of these initiatives are being integrated through the regional transportation plan, which will be supported and aligned with the RGS.
The CRD board strategic plan has identified regional transportation and land use as a key priority with various actions that will be reflected in the RGS and municipal and electoral area official community plans.
With the board assuming responsibilities for the regional transit system, the critical need to integrate regional land use decisions with transit planning, funding, and service prioritization can be facilitated through the regional governance framework the CRD provides.
With the growth and change in the region as a whole, it is time to move to a new model for planning, funding, and governing regional transit to enhance responsiveness and accountability to local governments.
Further information regarding the CRD's recommendations is available in the CRD submission to the independent Review of BC Transit, available on the CRD website.