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Review in hand, City avoids taking B.C. Transit to task

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 6th, 2011

The City of Nelson is one step ahead of a group of 36 municipal and regional politicians from across the province as they call for an independent review of the way B.C. Transit operates.

While politicians banded together Tuesday to ask for a meeting with provincial Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom to express their concerns over B.C. Transit, the City of Nelson already has their review in hand.

The City had their meeting with B.C. Transit back in March, said Mayor John Dooley, and they are not adamant at all in adding Nelson’s voice to the call for another review.

In fact, an April review of Nelson’s entire transit operation by B.C. Transit officials is now completed, Mayor Dooley said, but the results won’t be made public until later this month in council.

“There are some ideas on the table but we haven’t heard anything (concrete) yet,” he said.

B.C. Transit is a Crown corporation that essentially acts as a contractor to various regional transit systems in the province.

The local politicians were concerned decisions over acquisition of fleet, property and management costs were being made by B.C. Transit without their input, even though local taxpayers were expected to pay part of the cost.

That was the issue in Nelson until the March 21 meeting with B.C. Transit officials. The regional manager of B.C. Transit, Kevin Schubert, and the company’s president and CEO, Manuel Achadinha, both told City council they delivered the budget for the new buses one year ago last March, and the chief financial officer at the time, Linda Tynan, accepted the proposal.

“It shouldn’t have come as a surprise,” said Schubert in March. “We tried to communicate (those higher costs) early on but we heard nothing back.”

The City received several new Nova buses back in spring of 2010, replacing their fleet of 20-year-old Orion buses.

But in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island B.C. a $28-per-household tax hike has the municipalities and regional districts in an uproar. Transit officials said increased road congestion and a corresponding slump in ridership was the reason for the rise.

But Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard has said publicly the real reason for the hike was debt costs being foisted on local property owners by the province to pay for 100 new buses it bought for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Although Mayor Dooley did not attend a meeting in Richmond last week on the challenges the communities faced, he said, “I had told them we wanted to be kept in the loop and that we would support them in any way that we could.”

Municipalities and regional districts with concerns include: Abbotsford, Comox Valley Regional District, Cranbrook, Fort St. John, Kelowna, Kitimat, Penticton, Prince George, Saanich, Squamish, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Sunshine Coast Regional District, West Kelowna, Williams Lake, Vernon, Victoria, Whistler and the Regional District of Nanaimo.!/TheNelsonDaily


See also

Terrain trumps transit

BC Transit prepares to douse flames

Ultimatum on transit delivered by mayor


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