Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Transit innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 integration, intermodal linkages and institutional co-operation Fisher, Ian Randell 1998

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


831-ubc_1998-0434.pdf [ 9.47MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0088532.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0088532-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0088532-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0088532-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0088532-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0088532-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0088532-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

TRANSIT INNOVATIONS I N BRITISH COLUMBIA: 1988-98 INTEGRATION, INTERMODAL LINKAGES A N D INSTITUTIONAL CO-OPERATION by I A N RANDELL FISHER B.Sc, The University of British Columbia, 1992 B. A., The University of British Columbia, 1996 A THESIS SUBMITTED I N PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES School of Community and Regional Planning We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1998 © Ian Randell Fisher, 1998  in  presenting  degree  this  thesis  in partial  fulfilment  at the University  of British  Columbia,  freely available for reference copying  of this  department publication  or  thesis  f o r scholarly  by his or  of this  and study.  thesis  of the requirements I agree  I further  purposes  It  Department of ( a^^aA-j r ^ l ^U^;on«\ ft a . * * ^  Date  DE-6  (2788)  MJL.  IM  M  permission  is  shall  by the head  understood  make it  for extensive  that  gain shall n o t be allowed without  permission.  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  that  the Library  may be granted  her representatives.  for financial  agree  that  for an advanced  of my  copying  or  my written  Transit Innovations in British Columbia 1988-98:  Integration, Intermodal Linkages and Institutional Co-operation  Ian Fisher M.A. Candidate School of Community and Regional Planning The University of British Columbia October 11, 1998 (all photos by the author)  ii  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Abstract B C Transit, a provincial Crown Corporation operates and administers conventional, fixed-route public transit services in British Columbia's major metropolitan centres of Vancouver and Victoria and in 24 smaller communities across the province. B C Transit service is available to 76% of the province's residents. B C Transit has been successful in providing innovative services that respond to community needs. Some of these innovations include the introduction of lift-equipped and low-floor buses to improve accessibility, the use of bike racks and lockers to integrate transit with cycling, the integration of school bus and transit services to build transit ridership and improve efficiency, and the targeting of the post-secondary student market with special services and discounted fares. The introduction of innovative services to the non-metropolitan areas of the province has been facilitated by B C Transit's Municipal Systems Program and the three-way partnerships between B C Transit, local governments, and operating companies that it provides. Much of the planning for this program is done by B C Transit staff in Victoria, allowing for the easy transfer of experience between systems. A key area for future transit innovations in B.C. is in the creation of a provincewide public transportation system with integrated services and information. This would involve the creation of regional transit services in areas where development is coalescing into continuous corridors, rather than in discrete settlements. Although B C Transit has been successful in introducing a range of innovative services around the province, questions remain as to whether B C Transit's general service provision strategy is as cost-effective and accountable as possible. The current funding and governance arrangements in the province have created a situation that is weak on local accountability and which may perpetuate the provision of uneconomic services. Further research is needed to fully address this issue.  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Table of Contents Abstract  iii  Table of Contents  iv  List of Tables  vi  List of Figures  vi  List ofAppendices  vi  Chapter 1. Introduction  1  1.1. Introduction 1.1.1.  ,  A Note About the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority  1.2. Methodology and Sources 1.3. Acknowledgements  _1 2 3  __  3  Chapter 2. Transit in British Columbia  4  2.1. Overview  .4  2.2. Corporate Structure of BC Transit 2.2.1. Board of Directors 2.2.2. Regional Transit Commissions 2.2.3. Municipal Systems Committee  6 7 8 8  Chapter 3. Institutional Co-operation and Innovation 3.1. Introduction 3.2. BC Transit's Municipal Systems Program 3.2.1. Background 3.2.2. Organisation 3.2.3. Classification 3.2.4. Funding 3.2.5. Creation of New Systems 3.2.6. Trends in the Municipal Systems 3.3. Evaluation of the Municipal Systems Program 3.3.1. Provincial Support 3.3.2. Organisational Strengths and Weaknesses 3.3.3. Comparison with Washington State transit systems 3.3.4. Conclusions  9 9 9 9 10 11 12 13 13 19 19 21 25 27  3.4. Co-ordinating Transit With Land Use And Transportation Demand Management 27 3.4.1. Background 27 3.4.2. Evaluation 30 Chapter 4. Serving students  &  4.1. Reducing Duplication with School Buses  32  4.2. Attracting Post-Secondary Student Ridership  33  4.3. Conclusions  39 iv  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Chapter 5. Expanding Access to Transit  42  5.1. Accessible Fixed Route Transit 5.1.1. 5.1.2. 5.1.3. 5.1.4.  Introduction ____^__ Vancouver Regional Transit System Victoria Regional Transit System Municipal Systems  5.1.5.  Experience with Low-Floor Buses  —  46  5.2. Integrating Transit With Cycling 5.2.1. 5.2.2. 5.2.3. 5.2.4.  42 ^2 42 45 45  47  Background Vancouver Regional Transit System Victoria Regional Transit System Municipal Systems  47 50 56 57  5.3. Conclusions  58  Chapter 6. Marketing Transit Services  62  6.1. West Coast Express: A Strong Customer Orientation  62  6.2. Whistler: A special market 6.2.1. 6.2.2. 6.2.3.  Situation Marketing Potential BC Transit Ski Services  6  ;  ^  63 6 5  67  6.3. Using the World Wide Web  68  6.4. Conclusions  69  Chapter 7. Providing an Integrated Public Transportation System 7.1. Connections Between BC Transit Systems  71  7.2. Connections with Other Public Transportation Modes 7.2.1. 7.2.2.  71 72  Ferry Connections Intercity Transportation Connections  72 76  7.3. Evaluating the Market for Regional Transit  77  7.4. Co-ordinating Public Transportation Services___  84  7.5. Conclusions  85  Chapter 8. Conclusions and Future Research  87  8.1. Summary 8.2. Conclusions in Context and Future Research Bibliography  87 .  89 94  Government documents  94  Secondary Sources  95  Interviews and Communications  97  v  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  List of Tables Table 1: Grouping of Municipal Systems by Tier Table 2: Provincial contribution to Municipal Systems total costs Table 3: Comparison between Municipal Systems and Canadian Industry Leaders Table 4: Service provision and performance comparison between Municipal Systems and Washington State transit agencies Table 5: Post-secondary transit fare discounts in Victoria (1997/98) Table 6: Features and results of the University of Washington's U-PASS program Table 7: Pass discounts for post-secondary students on Municipal Systems Table 8: Relative performance of the Whistler Transit System Table 9: Comparative increases for sample BC Ferries peak fares 1995-98 Table 10: Costs per kilometre for a range of intercity bus services in B.C Table 11: Relative performance of BC Transit Municipal Systems and Link Transit  11 12 15 26 36 37 38 64 74 78 82  List of Figures Figure 1: Revenue passengers (millions) on BC Transit services, 1996/97 4 Figure 2: BC Transit system locations 6 Figure 3: Organisation of BC Transit 7 Figure 4: Funding sources for conventional, fixed route transit systems in the Muncipal Systems (1997-98) 12 Figure 5: Historical trends in Municipal Systems service hours 18 Figure 6: Historical trends in Municipal Systems ridership 18 Figure 7: Historical trends in Municipal Systems productivity 19 Figure 8: BC Transit bus in Nelson's compact downtown core 30 Figure 9: University and college pass sales in Victoria 1990/91 to 1997/98 36 Figure 10: Low-floor bus with ramp deployed 44 Figure 11: Energy use in operation of urban transport modes, United States, 1989 49 Figure 12: Cyclist loading bike on a rack-equipped bus in Vancouver 51 Figure 13: Monthly SeaBus bicycle use 1989-1998 54 Figure 14: Proportion of B.C. residents over 65 and 80 years of age 59 Figure 15: Cover of the Winter 1997/98 Whistler Rider's Guide 66 Figure 16: Skiers boarding ski rack equipped bus in Whistler 66 Figure 17: BC Ferry in Active Pass on the Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay route 72 Figure 18: Sunshine Coast Transit System bus at Langdale Ferry Terminal 73  List of Appendices Appendix One: Responsibilities for Municipal Systems Partners Appendix Two: BC Transit Service Summary Appendix Three: BC Transit Operating Statistics (1997/98) Appendix Four: Washington State Transit Operating Statistics (1996)  98 99 101 102  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Chapter 1. 1.1.  Introduction  Introduction This study looks at a number of transit policy and service innovations that have  been introduced on fixed-route, conventional transit services in British Columbia. Emphasis is placed on policy-based customer service innovations, rather than technological innovations. Innovations in custom and paratransit services are generally beyond the scope of this examination and so are not included. The innovations covered have been grouped thematically into four chapters with each chapter concluding with a discussion of the relative success of each innovation. Chapter 2 offers a brief overview of transit in B.C. in order to help set the stage for later chapters. Chapter 3 looks at the forms of institutional co-operation that have helped to further the development of transit services in B.C. The key focal areas of this chapter include consideration of the structure of transit governance in B.C., with an emphasis on the Municipal Systems Program of B C Transit, and the co-ordination of transit and land use in the province. Chapter 4 deals with the efforts that have been made to increase the use of transit by students, at both the public school and the post-secondary levels. Since the approaches used to target each student group are quite distinct, they are considered separately. Chapter 5 examines the means by which the accessibility of transit to persons with disabilities and cyclists has been improved through the use of accessible buses, and bike racks and lockers.  1  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Chapter 6 introduces some of the marketing innovations that have been employed by transit systems in B.C. to attract riders and maintain customer satisfaction. Emphases are placed on the customer-driven approach of the West Coast Express commuter rail service, and the unique aspects of the Whistler Transit System given its need to appeal to a different market from that served by most other B C Transit systems. Chapter 7 looks at the creation of an integrated provincial public transportation system, an innovation that could be expected given the relatively centralised nature of transit plarrning in B.C., but also one that has not been achieved. This situation is discussed with reference to the more integrated set of transit services in neighbouring Washington State. Chapter 8 presents a summary of the conclusions of the study, their implications for planners, and suggestions for future research.  1.1.1. A Note About the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority In April, 1999, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (GVTA) will assume responsibility for all B C Transit services within the Vancouver Regional Transit System (British Columbia 1998). Readers should be aware that this report does not consider the impact of the creation of the G V T A on the provision of transit services in Greater Vancouver. The creation of the G V T A , and its inclusion of all regional transportation planning responsibilities in one body, is easily the topic of another study.  2  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  1.2.  Methodology and Sources The collection of information for this report involved a literature search, in-person  and telephone interviews, visits to Web sites, and e-mail contacts. In some cases persons contacted were able to send reports and electronic data that was of considerable use. A n example of the latter is the 1997-98 year end performance data for the Municipal Systems Program that is used throughout the study and included as Appendix Three. Extensive use was made of current public transportation schedules for all communities in B.C. and a number in Washington State. Information gathered from readily available and obvious sources, such as bus schedules, has not been formally referenced in the report.  1.3.  Acknowledgements The author would like to express his appreciation for the invaluable assistance  provided by all those contacted to provide information for this thesis. Professor V . Setty Pendakur of the School of Community and Regional Planning helped suggest the topic and provided useful introductions to B C Transit staff, as well as serving as the research supervisor. Professor Alan Artibise of the school served as the second reader and provided a constructive critique of a draft of this thesis. At B C Transit, the assistance of Graeme Masterton of the Municipal Systems Program, and Pat Ryan of the Strategic Planning department was invaluable.  The author would also like to thank Glen Leicester, Executive Director of Strategic Planning at B C Transit, for helping further the author's interest in transit and land use planning since issues 1988.  3  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Chapter 2.  Transit in British Columbia  2.1. Overview B C Transit, a provincial Crown Corporation, operates and administers conventional, fixed-route public transit services in British Columbia's major metropolitan centres of Vancouver and Victoria and in 24 smaller communities across the province. B C Transit service is available to 76% of the province's residents.  Transit services in Vancouver  Figure 1: Revenue passengers (millions) on B C Transit services, 1996/97. 140  122.5  120  and Victoria are operated directly by  100 80  B C Transit and its subsidiaries. B C  60 40  Transit, in partnership with local  0  municipalities and service  10.94  1 7 3  20  IT <  i — | — i  tm$i  1  —  |  —  \mmki  Vancouver  Victoria  Municipal  Region  Region  Systems  —  contractors, provides fixed route Source: BC Transit 1997b. conventional bus transit service in 24 areas outside the metropolitan centres of Vancouver and Victoria through the Municipal Systems Program (BC Transit 1997b). The locations of all B C Transit conventional, fixed route systems are shown in Figure 2. Appendix Two provides a basic outline of the services provided in each transit system while Appendix Three tabulates service and performance data for the conventional, fixed-route systems. Eight additional services classified as paratransit by B C Transit could also be considered as regular transit services in that they provide service for eight or more hours a day on  4  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 fixed routes for at least five days a week. Three of these paratransit systems offer fare and service integration with neighbouring conventional transit systems.  1  B C Transit ridership is dominated by the Vancouver Regional Transit System, as shown in Figure 1. Buses are the only transit mode operated outside the Vancouver region. Even in Vancouver, where an automated light metro (SkyTrain), a passenger ferry service (SeaBus) and a commuter rail service (West Coast Express) are also in service, the bus and trolleybus system carries 75% of the system's riders (BC Transit 1997a). B C Transit's integration of bus, rail and ferry service over the 1,800 square kilometre service area of the Vancouver Regional Transit System, has brought many accolades, including a 1993 award from the International Centre for Cities on Water (BC Transit 1993,16). B C Transit has performed well in the Canadian context, recording an 18% ridership increase from 1991-92 to 1996-97. In contrast, total Canadian transit 2  ridership fell 7.8% from 1991 to 1996 (BC Transit 1992 and 1997b, and Pucher 1998 Table 5).  1  2  The paratransit systems included in this category are those operated in partnership with the following local governments: The North Okanagan Regional District, the Regional District of OkanaganSimilkameen, the District of Port Edward, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (Castlegar and Creston), the City of Williams Lake, the District of Salmon Arm, and the City of Revelstoke. The first three systems connect with conventional transit systems in Vernon, Penticton, and Prince Rupert respectively. See Appendix Two for more information on these services. The growth in service hours over this period was 14%, indicating that productivity also increased.  5  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Figure 2: B C Transit system locations 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.  Campbell River Central Fraser Valley Chilliwack Comox Valley Cowichan Valley Dawson Creek Fort St. John Kamloops Kelowna Regional Kitimat Kootenay-Boundary Nanaimo Regional (including ParksvilleQualicum Beach)  o ©  3  2.2.  13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.  Nelson Penticton Port Alberni Powell River Prince George Prince Rupert Squamish Sunshine Coast Terrace Regional Vancouver Regional Victoria Regional Vernon Regional Whistler  Or  4 •9  Corporate Structure of BC Transit B C Transit's basic corporate structure and authority is provided by the British  Columbia Transit Act. Figure 3 provides a schematic overview of the organisation of B C Transit. The West Coast Express commuter rail service is isolated from the rest of B C  6  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Figure 3: Organisation of B C Transit Minister Responsible for Transit  BC Transit Board of Directors West Coast Express Vancouver Regional Transit Commission  BC Transit staff Vancouver  Victoria Regional Transit Commission  Municipal Systems Committee  BC Transit staff Victoria  Sources: BC Transit 1997c, BC Transit 1990c. Transit and reports directly to the Minister through a separate board of directors, with only a minor reporting function to the Vancouver Regional Transit Commission.  3  2.2.1. Board of Directors As determined by the British Columbia Transit Act, B C Transit is controlled by a board of directors selected by the Minister Responsible for Transit and appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-council (i.e., the provincial cabinet). As the highest level of authority within B C Transit, the board has responsibility for setting and approving budgets, negotiating labour contracts and other such major decisions. The board consists of elected and non-elected members, including representatives from the regional transit commissions and municipalities participating in the Municipal Systems Program.  7  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 2.2.2. Regional Transit Commissions The regional transit commissions in Greater Vancouver and Victoria are structured according to the British Columbia Transit Act and provide a forum for municipal politicians in the transit governance structure. Commissioners are appointed according to a formula that provides for sub-regional representation by an order of the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council on the advice of the Minister Responsible for Transit. The duties of the regional transit commissions as set out in the act are to: 1. prepare plans; 2. determine service levels and performance standards; 3. review and recommend annual operating and capital budgets to the Authority; 4. set fares; and, 5. raise the local share of the transit deficit through taxation. 2.2.3. Municipal Systems Committee The Municipal Systems committee of the board is charged with reviewing and recommending to the board the annual operating and capital budgets for the Municipal Systems Program. The committee also deals with policy matters related to the program. Each year, members of the committee accompany program staff on a tour of several of the transit systems that they oversee.  3  The relationship of West Coast Express to BC Transit is as described by Brian Hollingshead, BC Transit Vice-President of Corporate Services and Corporate Secretary, in a July 22 1998 conversation.  8  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Chapter 3.  Institutional Co-operation and Innovation  3.1. Introduction The institutional structure of transit in British Columbia is in many ways distinct from the structures used elsewhere in North America. The strong role played by the provincial government, through B C Transit, in transit systems across the province is one obvious structural difference. This chapter examines the Municipal Systems Program, a key innovation provided through B C Transit; and offers a brief look at some efforts to integrate transit and land use planning.  3.2.  BC Transit's Municipal Systems Program  3.2.1. Background The structure of the current Municipal Systems Program can be traced back to 1972 when the provincial government began providing transit funding for smaller communities. In 1973, the task of allocating this funding was incorporated into the Province's new Bureau of Transit Services. In 1978, the Urban Transit Authority, the predecessor of B C Transit, was created and the program was expanded. By the time the Urban Transit Authority became B C Transit in August, 1982, it was supporting fixed route bus systems in 23 British Columbia communities. Originally known as the Small 4  Community Transit Systems program, the name was changed to the Municipal Systems  Since 1982 two of the systems included in this total have been incorporated into neighbouring systems. The Maple Ridge system was absorbed into the Vancouver Regional Transit System in December 1991 (BC Transit 1992,25) while the Mission system was combined with the Abbotsford-Matsqui system to form the Central Fraser Valley Transit system in 1994-95 (BC Transit 1994, 33 and 1995,46).  9  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Program in 1992/93 (BC Transit 1993, 39). The program is overseen by the Municipal Systems Committee of the B C Transit Board.  3.2.2. Organisation Each system within the Municipal Systems Program operates as a three-way partnership between B C Transit, the local government, and an operating company. The responsibilities of each party are formalised each year through an Annual Operating Agreement (AOA). The general distribution of responsibilities among the A O A signatories is detailed in Appendix One. In essence, B C Transit acts as a consultant and funding agency to local governments that wish to host and partially fund a local transit service operated by a contractor. Operating companies are selected following a Request for Proposals that takes place every five years. Since 1994, the Request for Proposals has stipulated that the successful company must offer employment to all existing nonmanagement and non-supervisory staff, and that existing seniority, wages, and certain benefits form part of the offer. In most cases the contractor is a third party, although four systems are operated directly by local government employees (BC Transit 1997c). 5  5  The Nanaimo, Nelson, Powell River and Sunshine Coast transit systems are operated by the respective local governments. A new form of operational and funding innovation was introduced in June 1998 when the new paratransit system in the Hazeltons began operating. The initial contractor for the service is the Gitxsan Health Authority, a First Nations body. An innovative funding mechanism was required since the system serves a number of First Nations settlements and property taxes, the usual source of local transit funding, are not collected on First Nations land. To overcome this hurdle, the KitimatStikine Regional District will receive paymentsfromthe local First Nations to support their share of the service (Segal 1998). 10  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 3.2.3. Classification B C Transit groups the systems within the Municipal Systems Program into three tiers, as shown in Table 1, in order to facilitate strategic planning and analysis. The first tier includes the five systems that serve populations in excess of 50,000 and accounts for 60% of the program's service hours. The system in the Resort Municipality of Whistler was also recently included in the first tier since, although it serves a permanent population of only 8,100, its ridership is greatly augmented from use by seasonal residents and tourists. Its service levels are more akin to those of a major centre in terms of frequency and hours of service. The second tier includes seven systems with populations of between 20,000 and 49,999. The third tier includes those 11 systems with populations under 20,000. The population served by first and second tier systems is projected to increase rapidly, especially in the three Okanagan Valley systems where a 60-plus percent increase is projected between 1994-95 and 2006/07 (BC Transit 1995c). Table 1: Grouping of Municipal Systems by Tier Tier 1  Population range over 50,000  2  8,100 20,000 to 49,999  3  fewer than 20,000  Systems included Central Fraser Valley, Kamloops, Kelowna Regional, Nanaimo Regional, Prince George Whistler Campbell River, Chilliwack, Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley, Penticton, Sunshine Coast, Vernon Regional Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Kitimat, Kootenay Boundary, Nelson, ParksvilleQualicum Beach, Port Alberni, Powell River, Prince Rupert, Squamish, Terrace Regional  Source: Appendix Three.  11  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 3.2.4. Funding Operating funding for Municipal Systems is composed of two main components, a provincial share and a local share.  Table 2: Provincial contribution to Municipal Systems total costs Provincial contribution to Year of Operation total costs 52.5% First and second 49% Third 46.69% Fourth and subsequent Source: BC Transit 1997c  The province, through B C Transit, contributes a fixed proportion of the total costs, as shown in Table 2. The local share is raised from operating revenues (passenger fares, advertising, charter revenue), and local property taxation as provided for in the B C Transit Act. The proportion from each local source varies greatly between systems; at the extremes, fare revenue ranges from 19.2% of total costs in the Cowichan Valley, to 50.3% in Whistler with local taxation providing the remaining local share. The province-wide revenue sources for conventional transit systems within the Municipal Systems Program are illustrated in Figure 4.  Figure 4: Funding sources for conventional, fixed route transit systems in the Muncipal Systems (1997-98) Provincial Contribution (48%)  Source: Appendix Three.  12  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 3.2.5. Creation of New Systems The creation of a new transit system within the Municipal Systems Program is preceded by the preparation of a transit feasibility study by B C Transit staff. The study examines the market for transit and proposes service options based on the land uses and travel patterns of the prospective service area, while incorporating public input and local objectives. The cost of the study is shared equally by the community and B C Transit. If the study is approved by the B C Transit Board and the local community, an implementation plan is created that leads to the signing of a Transit Service Agreement (TSA) by these parties. The TSA defines the service area and thus also the area that will be subject to local property taxation for the purpose of raising the local share of operating funding. Opportunities for new conventional systems have largely been exhausted with one major exception. The City of Cranbrook, located near the south-eastern corner of the province, has a population of 19,227, making it by far the most populous municipality in 6  the province without fixed route transit service. The 1994 transit proposal for the City 7  was defeated in a public referendum during which an anti-government councillor campaigned actively against it (Forman 1998).  3.2.6. Trends in the Municipal Systems The number of conventional transit systems within the Municipal Systems Program has remained relatively constant at 24 or 25 since 1988-89. While three new  6  1997 estimatefromBC Stats.  13  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 systems were created in this time, in the Cowichan Valley, Whistler and on the Sunshine Coast; the amalgamation of three other systems has kept the total stable. This relative stability conceals the fact that there is still interest in creating new conventional systems, such as the one studied for the City of Cranbrook in 1994. With limited potential for new conventional systems, growth in the Municipal Systems Program over the last decade has been directed mainly at improving service in the existing systems, as proposed in B C Transit's Ten-Year Development Plan for the program (BC Transit 1995c). Background work for this plan determined that the level of transit service supplied per capita in the first tier Municipal Systems was less than half that provided by comparable Canadian "Industry Leader" systems. For the second tier systems, only about one-third as much service per capita was being provided by the Municipal Systems relative to comparable Canadian systems. Service levels for third tier Municipal Systems were three-quarters of the comparable industry leaders' average. The results of these comparisons are shown in Table 3, with 1997-98 figures included for comparison. Whistler is included in the 1997-98 Tier 1 results and is also listed separately in order to highlight its unique standing. Note that while service hours per capita in Tier 1 communities have increased from 46% to 55% of industry leaders levels, service in Tier 2 systems is stuck at 35% of industry leaders levels while in the Tier 3 communities service has grown from 75% to 81% of comparison levels. Improvements in  7  The next largest municipality without fixed route service is Summerland, with a 1997 population of 10,987.  14  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Table 3: Comparison between Municipal Systems and Canadian Industry Leaders Service hours per capita First Tier 1.50 Industry Leaders (1991) Municipal Systems (1993) 0.69 Municipal Systems (1997-98) 0.82 Second Tier 1.27 Industry Leaders (1991) Municipal Systems (1993) 0.44 Municipal Systems (1997-98) 0.44 Third Tier 0.77 Industry Leaders (1991) Municipal Systems (1993) 0.58 Municipal Systems (1998-99) 0.62 4.05 Whistler (1997-98) Sources: BC Transit 1995c and Appendix Three.  Passengers per Passengers per capita hour 42.6 13.1 17.3  28.4 19.1 20.9  37.5 8.2 7.2  29.4 19.2 16.4  16.0 13.1 12.7 129.8  20.7 22.5 20.5 32.1  the perforrnance offirsttier systems from 1993 to 1997-98 have more than offset the reduced performance of systems in the second and third tiers over this period. Aside from indicating a need to increase service levels in the first and second tier systems, the comparisons with industry leaders provided additional useful information that has influenced subsequent planning. One lesson was that the more successful systems benefited greatly from the more compact form of the communities they serve. This has been reflected in British Columbia with a renewed emphasis in some areas on the co-ordination of transit and land use planning, as discussed below. A second key lesson was that 25 to 45% of the ridership of the industry leaders was composed of university and college students, a market that B C Transit is making increasing efforts to capture (see page 33).  15  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 The service increases resulting from the Ten-Year Plan review have included expansions in service coverage to newly developed areas and improvements in service levels. Service additions in many of the larger Tier 1 systems have improved peak service from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes on major routes (see Appendix Two). Service increases are intended to help transit broaden its function in the community by becoming an alternative to the automobile for commuting trips, rather than solely a travel mode for those without access to an automobile. This broadening of transit's ridership base coincides with rapid increases in the populations served by many o f the Tier 1 systems.  The population of the Kelowna transit service area increased 46% from 1993-94 to 1997-98, while the population served by the Whistler system increased by an incredible 80% in the same period. Service hour increases in Kelowna and Whistler over 9  the same period have been, respectively, 60 and 67%. Despite the fact that in Kelowna service hours were added at a greater rate than population growth, the improved service was more effective, recording better results for the number of rides taken per hour and the number of rides per capita. Excluding the rapidly developing Whistler system, three of the five Tier 1 systems enjoyed improvements in productivity (rides per hour) over the 1993-94 to 1997-98 period. Kamloops experienced a slight drop from 24.6 to 24.4 rides per hour, likely as result of ridership growth lagging slightly behind service increases. Prince George was the only Tier 1 city to experience a significant decline, from 15.1 to  8  9  The source material of the 1993 data (BC Transit 1995c, Part A, Tables 1.4 and 1.6) contains conflicting information, for example Table 1.4 reports service hours per capita in the Tier 3 Municipal Systems as being 0.58 while Table 1.6 gives a figure of 0.66. Based on an examination of raw data for 1993, the datafromTable 1.4 has been assumed to more accurate and is used here. 1993-94 statisticsfromBC Transit 1994b, 1997-98 statisticsfromAppendix Three.  16  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 13.7 riders per hour, perhaps partially due to the extended trip lengths of riders travelling to the University of Northern British Columbia's main campus. The campus opened in August, 1994 and is located on the periphery of the service area. Municipal Systems service increases have been achieved while maintaining an average of about 20 rides per hour for all the Municipal Systems taken together (see Figure 7). The large service increases implemented in 1995-96 and 1996-97 (Figure 5) brought an initial decline in productivity in 1996-97 but this was reversed in 1997-98. A similar pattern can be observed following substantial service hour additions in 1991-92 and 1993-94. In all cases productivity dropped initially but then increased the following year as the new service matured. The effects on ridership and productivity of service increases in 1997-98 are not very pronounced in the Appendix Three data since many increases took place well into the fiscal year. Although the experience with rapid service expansion has not been unfavourable, B C Transit is now considering a "fallow year process" of expansion whereby two years of expansion would be followed by a year of stability in order to allow the new services to mature. This slowing down in expansion would also address the difficulties some areas are experiencing in raising the local share of revenues. For example, the land base in Whistler is approaching build-out, resulting in a drop in revenues from development cost charges. Some areas, such as Kelowna and Whistler, have expressed interest in the institution of a local gasoline sales tax dedicated to transit, as is already in place in Vancouver and Victoria (Masterton 1998).  17  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Figure 5: Historical trends in Municipal Systems service hours M u n c i p a l S y s t e m s S e r v i c e H o u r s 1988-98 600  528  500  435 -370-  400 309  303  442  538  _4_  399  319  X  300 200  111  100 0  m 198889  1989- 1990- 1991- 1992- 1993- 1994- 1995- 1996- 199790 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98  Source: BC Transit Figure 6: Historical trends in Municipal Systems ridership M u n c i p a l S y s t e m s Revenue P a s s e n g e r s 1988-98 14.0 11.46  «T 12-0  10 ««  c  9.94  o 8.39  1 10.0 CO  _  TO c <u  8.0  6.45  6.66  -7rrQ-  8.74  -9^r  _  7.66  2 6.0 a.  _ 4.0 > CD  *  2.0 0.0  1988-89 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 1993-94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98  Source: BC Transit  18  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Figure 7: Historical trends in Municipal Systems productivity M u n c i p a l S y s t e m s Productivity 1988-98 23.0 3 o X  22.3  (D O  •g  22.0 22.0  CO  21.3  8. <D 21.0 O)  20.9  21.0  21.0  "_rrr  c 0) io to  20.5 20.1  20.2  TO 20.0  a. c >  _  19.0 1988-89 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 1993-94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98  Source: BC Transit  3.3. Evaluation of the Municipal Systems Program The Municipal Systems Program represents an innovative means of facilitating transit development in the province's smaller communities. The program represents a combination of transit governance, funding, planning and operation that is unique in North America. This following sections discusses the key aspects of the Municipal Systems Program with respect to their advantages and disadvantages. This analysis should be of assistance to decision-makers in other jurisdictions where changes in transit governance are being contemplated.  3.3.1. Provincial Support The provincial support that is shown for public transit in British Columbia is a major advantage of the Municipal Systems Program and BC Transit overall. The  19  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 continued provincial funding of transit in B.C. is in stark contrast to the situation in many other provinces where provincial funding has been cut or eliminated, forcing fare increases, service cutbacks and even the closure of some systems. From 1980 to 1995, the provincial share of transit operating subsidies in Canada fell from 53% to 39% and the provincial share of capital subsidies dropped from 89% to 48%. Lower levels of government face a difficult, if not impossible, challenge to maintain transit services in light of such cuts, especially in Ontario where local governments are prohibited from dedicating taxes to finance transit (Pucher 1998). A n intriguing feature of the Municipal Systems funding formula is that the provincial contribution to paying for transit is a fixed percentage of total costs, as was shown in Table 2. For a mature system, this could result in the cost to local government being reduced to zero if cost recovery exceeds 53.3%. With the Whistler system having a cost recovery of 50.3% in 1997/98, the question is raised as to whether a very fortunate local government could turn their local transit system into a money-making venture on the back of the province. The role of B C Transit as a vehicle lessor is also of financial advantage to local governments since they are then able to pay for transit vehicles as an annual operating expense rather than a one-time capital expense that would increase their debt. This facilitates the creation of new systems, as well as the expansion of existing systems. B C Transit is also able to readily reassign buses from system to system as demand, equipment suitability and maintenance requirements warrant.  20  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 On the negative side, the comparison with Canadian industry leaders that was done for the Ten-Year Plan showed that average service levels on the Municipal Systems were often only one-third to one-half those offered by Canadian industry leaders (BC Transit 1995c). Whether this is the result of low provincial funding or reluctance on the part of local governments to invest in transit, or both, is hard to say, although a combination of the two causes seems likely. The apparent shortfall could be explained in part by a legacy of previous provincial fiscal restraint, the rapid and often dispersed pattern of growth in many B.C. communities, and by a lack of local support for transit.  3.3.2. Organisational Strengths and Weaknesses The three-way partnership between B C Transit, local government, and a private operator that typifies most of the Municipal Systems operations has a number of advantages and disadvantages. With three parties involved, it could be assumed that implementing service changes would be a slow process. However, this is not a universal concern as transit managers in Kamloops and Terrace offered no complaints on this matter whatsoever (Docherty 1998 and Kelly 1998). Nevertheless, as one of the few systems that is directly operated by the local government partner, the Regional District of Nanaimo claims that its two-way partnership with Municipal Systems staff in Victoria is highly efficient. This arrangement offers a more streamlined decision making process than the more typical three-way partnership. (Donnelly 1998).  21  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 A serious and related concern is the question o f local control over local transit systems. Good arguments can be made that locally-planned systems are likely to be more effective than those designed from a distant central office. L o c a l control can be more responsive, more familiar with local issues, and easier for the public to access. Kelowna and Nanaimo have both expressed interest in doing more o f the planning for their transit systems in-house; both these systems have outgrown the optimal size for systems planned mainly from Victoria (Nanaimo 1998 and Kelowna 1994). The Regional District o f Nanaimo ( R D N ) has perhaps moved the farthest to municipal management, with the agreement o f B C Transit staff. Notwithstanding this shift, the R D N highly values the fleet management, marketing, graphic design, expert pknning advice and other services available from Municipal Systems staff. There is a recognition that there is a great benefit from having B C Transit planners involved who have experience to draw on from working with many transit systems around the province.  A hazard with providing more local control o f the planning process in smaller communities is that local government staff may not be as effective as B C Transit staff at planning transit systems. Hiring suitable staff locally may be more expensive than paying for B C Transit's services. If a local person with part-time responsibility for transit is more interested in catering to the car than in attracting passengers to buses, the outcome, for transit at least, w i l l be less than optimal. O n the other hand, i f a local staff member acts as a champion for transit within municipal hall, the results may be better than what could be achieved under the more centralised structure.  22  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Local control can also be more responsive to the public since currently citizen concerns must be passed from the citizen to the local transit contact, then to the planner in Victoria, then back to the local transit contact and finally back to the citizen. In the absence of such random contacts, passenger surveys administered periodically by B C Transit provide a means of communication. However, there are examples of more continuous citizen involvement. In Terrace a transit advisory board composed of the transit manager, three city councillors, a seniors' representative, four student representatives and two riders from the general population meets regularly. The system's manager reports that this board is very effective and that it contributed to a rewriting of the local bus schedule that improved arrival and departure times, better co-ordinated transfers, and brought about a one-fifth increase in the productivity of each bus trip (Docherty 1998).  The level of municipal financial and political support for transit is of vital importance to the success and effectiveness of transit systems within the Municipal Systems. Some systems (e.g. Kamloops and Whistler) have excelled with strong municipal support while others, such as Vernon, have stagnated for lack of it (Kelly 1998). The relationship between B C Transit planners and their local contacts also has a role to play in that planners who are strong advocates of improved transit will be more effective at seeing that proposed service improvements get local support.  Putting a local identity on transit systems within the Municipal Systems Program may be of benefit in some cases as a means of raising local support. With almost all of B C Transit's buses painted in a white with red and blue stripes colour scheme, local 23  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 governments may feel a bit detached from 'their' bus systems. Transit buses in Whistler 10  feature the words 'Spirit of Whistler' on the front of each bus (Stonehouse 1998). If creating distinct identities for local bus fleets will improve municipal support for transit, it may be a concept worth considering, keeping in mind the ramifications for mamtaining a unified provincial fleet. However, it should be remembered that the Municipal Systems Program has demonstrated an ability to provide services that are responsive to local needs. A simple example is the standard provision of air conditioning on all Municipal Systems buses purchased beginning in 1994-95 (BC Transit 1995a, 21). Air conditioning is not provided on buses operating in the more temperate climates of Vancouver and Victoria but is of clear utility on many of the interior systems where summer temperatures can be sweltering. Likewise, the early introduction of 100% low-floor bus service in Penticton in 1993 (see section 5.1.4) indicates responsiveness to the local situation. On the operating side, transit managers in Kamloops and Terrace have nothing but praise for the Municipal Systems Program. Both managers formerly worked for B C Transit bus operating centres in Greater Vancouver and find that the Municipal Systems environment is free of much of the office politics, bureaucracy, and poor labour climate that typified their former workplaces. In both places there is solid municipal support for transit. The managers proactively market their systems through shoppers' and seniors' days, participation in parades, and advertising. In their current positions, they find that  10  Exceptions to the basic provincial colour scheme exist primarily in the Vancouver Regional Transit System and include West Vancouver's 'Blue Buses,' compressed natural gas-powered 'Clean Air' (sic) Footnotes continued on next page. 24  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 management and unionised operating employees work as a team to deliver the best possible service using the resources they have available. Everyone involved knows that their jobs benefit from taking this approach (Docherty 1998 and Kelly 1998). The design of the Municipal Systems Program also expedites the transfer of experience between systems. This is a result of the relatively small and centralised planning and administrative structure of the program. Planners working on a number of systems can easily propagate innovations that have been successful on one system to the others under their supervision. Similarly, exchanges of experience are facilitated between planners working in the same office, including those between Municipal Systems Program and Victoria Regional Transit System staff.  3.3.3. Comparison with Washington State transit systems A comparison with transit service levels and performance in Washington State is informative. Washington State has a remarkably complete public transportation system, especially at the local and regional levels. Eighty-five percent of the state's population live in areas served by public transit (Washington State Department of Transportation 1996 vii). In British Columbia, 76% of residents live within a B C Transit service area. Appendix Four presents a range of statistics for Washington state transit systems while Table 4 provides a summary of key measures for the non-metropolitan systems, with Municipal Systems results included for comparison. To aid comparisons, the non-  buses, buses with 'total paint' advertising, and the new fleet of buses dedicated to the B-Line route.  25  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 metropolitan Washington systems have been grouped by tiers, as for the Municipal Systems. Table 4: Service provision and performance comparison between Municipal Systems and Washington State transit agencies Passengers Passengers Service hours per (trips for WA) (trips for WA) Cost capita per capita per hour recovery First Tier 0.77 15.2 19.9 27.7% Municipal Systems (1997-98) Washington State non-metro (1996) 0.84 19.7 23.4 5.9% Second Tier 0.44 7.2 16.4 26.7% Municipal Systems (1997-98) Washington State non-metro (1996) 0.52 13.0 24.8 10.4% Third Tier 0.62 12.7 20.5 24.7% Municipal Systems (1999-98) Washington State non-metro (1996) 1.17 11.2 9.6 6.7% (Source: Appendices Three and Four) As Table 4 reveals, the Washington systems, on average, provide more service per resident and are more productive. The reader is cautioned that the Washington systems report unlinked passenger trips rather than revenue passengers, however in 11  smaller transit systems the number of transferring passengers is unlikely to be very high so this should not be of great concern. Where the Washington systems do not excel is in cost recovery since their fares are generally very low. Four agencies operate fare-free (or 'prepaid') systems, as revealed by the zeroes in the Total Revenue column of Appendix Four. This is justified as a means of encouraging ridership and reducing operating costs. While fare-free operation may be effective in attracting some riders, those Washington systems with free fares have fewer rides per capita than their tier average. B C Transit's  26  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 only fare-free operation is a small free zone in Whistler Village, expanded in summer to include recreational shuttle service to Lost Lake.  3.3.4. Conclusions The Municipal Systems Program of B C Transit represents an innovative approach to supporting transit services in service areas with populations ranging from fewer than 10,000 to over 120,000 residents. The program benefits communities with transit service by providing a stable funding source, consulting expertise and vehicle leasing, while achieving economies of scale through the centralisation of major administrative and maintenance functions. The centralised nature of the program, and its links through B C Transit to the Vancouver and Victoria systems, encourages the application of "best practices" learned from one system to the others.  3.4.  Co-ordinating Transit With Land Use And Transportation Demand Management  3.4.1. Background Attempts to co-ordinate transportation and land use have a relatively long history in British Columbia. A 1973 brochure from the Bureau of Transit Services notes that: Most people do not realise it, but decisions about where important community activities are located have a major bearing on the quality of transit. A recreation centre, junior college, hospital, senior citizens' home or other such place that is located well beyond a central shopping area, or an established suburban centre, is impossible to serve well with public  11  The differentiation between these two terms is best illustrated by examples. A passenger making a trip that does not require a transfer is counted as one revenue passenger and one passenger trip; however, if the passenger had to transfer and take two transit vehicles, they are still counted as one revenue passenger but have made two unlinked passenger trips.  27  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 transit at reasonable cost. Putting a recreation centre five miles out of town might be attractive from a land cost or other standpoint, but it makes the transit task virtually impossible. (Bureau of Transit Services 1973) Efforts on the part of transit planners to encourage land uses that are supportive of transit continue, for example, B C Transit publishes a 24 page booklet describing the importance of considering transit during land use planning and the means by which developments can be made more transit-friendly (BC Transit 1994e). B C Transit can also obtain some leverage when allocating funding among the municipal systems, as the following quotation indicates: Priority for expansion will go to those communities who actively support transit through changes in land use development and transportation demand management programs. (BC Transit 1997c, 14) While there is no formal role to date for B C Transit planners in the approval of land use and development decisions, in some municipalities the ability of transit to serve new developments is considered. Kelowna is a good example of this case since the traffic technician who reviews development plans is also responsible for liasing with B C Transit Municipal Systems planners. The traffic technician examines each plan for transit access, its ability to accommodate bus stops, and the pedestrian linkages it provides. Bus bays are resisted whenever possible since, by removing the bus from the traffic stream, they make re-entry into traffic problematic and cause delays (Campbell 1998).  The introduction of the Growth Strategies Statutes Amendment Act in 1995 has spurred the creation of new municipal and regional plans, many of which mention the need to create more liveable, transit-friendly communities. The Greater Vancouver Regional District's 1996 Livable Region Strategic Plan is one example of such a plan, 28  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 although it has existed in recognisable form for over two decades. Official Community Plans (OCPs) that feature a strong transit component, often as part of a T D M strategy, are being developed in cities such as Chilliwack, Kamloops and Kelowna.  Chilliwack's Future Plan (Chilliwack 1998) is not yet complete but the preferred direction has a number of components that would benefit transit, including a tripling or quadrupling of core-area densities, and the establishment of an urban containment boundary. The direction also proposes to establish multi-modal transportation systems for walking, cycling and transit in new and existing developments. On the downside, the preferred direction includes the development of a large business/industrial park, a form of development that is very difficult to serve efficiently with transit.  Kamloops' 1997 Kamplan document and the 1994 Kelowna OCP (Kelowna 12  1994) both feature an emphasis on focusing development to designated centres, although the approaches differ somewhat. The K_tmloops plan seeks to intensify existing commercial areas, including the downtown, and create compact communities around neighbourhood commercial centres. This is to be accompanied by mixed-use development of increased density along transit routes. The Kelowna OCP proposes that sub-regional centres be strengthened in order to reduce the dominance o f the downtown and Orchard Park areas. The plan's goal is to reduce the distance from residences to commercial areas and improve the viability of walking, cycling and transit relative to the automobile. The plan includes many transit supportive policies as part of a T D M  12  Summarised at  29  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 program. Some T D M measures have already been implemented in Kelowna, such the introduction in September 1997, a year ahead of schedule, of expanded of West Side bus services to provide a bus every five to 10 minutes in peak hours across the Okanagan Lake Bridge. Developments in 1998 have included the opening of a new transit terminal downtown and an evaluation of transit signal priority measures and queue jumpers in the downtown area. Hopes to expand the transit terminal at the Orchard Park Mall, the largest shopping centre between Vancouver and Calgary, have been thwarted by mall managers who are reluctant to reallocate land from parking to bus terminal use (Campbell 1998).  3.4.2. Evaluation Co-ordinating transit and land use planning in B.C. has been encouraged by BC Transit and its predecessors since their inception. While unqualified success has been elusive, some innovations have been made in a number of municipalities and were described above. The value of seeking more  J& * downtown core  ¥  ur  8 :  B  C  T r a n s i t  b  u  s i n  N  e  k  o  n  '  s  c o m  P  a c t  transit-oriented development patterns in the future is illustrated by examining performance data for the Municipal Systems of Appendix Three while considering the form of the communities served. Systems serving areas with compact land uses and strong cores, such as Kamloops, have above average performance in rides per capita and riders per hour. Among the Tier 3 systems, 30  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Nelson (see Figure 8) and Prince Rupert benefit from strong cores and physical constraints on outlying development while the areas served by the Kitimat and Kootenay - Boundary systems feature relatively compact cores and large industrial employers with direct transit service. Transit's performance in more spread out areas, such as the Central Fraser Valley, Chilliwack, and Parksville-Qualicum Beach performs poorly in comparison with that in the denser centres. Municipal plans are increasingly emphasising a stronger role for transit. If these plans can be achieved, they may help correct the poor performance of a number of Municipal Systems Program systems. For example, Chilliwack's Future Plan contains initiatives that should help improve the performance of its transit system relative to the other members of the Municipal Systems Program (see Appendix Three). The local plan for Kelowna may help improve the situation for transit, although plans to reduce the dominance of downtown in favour of suburban centres may have a negative effect since downtown areas are traditionally the strongest markets for transit and Kelowna already suffers from a very dispersed urban form. The continued forging of new links between transit and land use planning will be essential in improving the effectiveness and economic viability of transit services in B.C.  31  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Chapter 4.  Serving students  B C Transit has undertaken two major strategies to serve students. Firstly, efforts have been made to reduce duplication with school bus services in the Municipal Systems communities. The second major strategy is aimed at attracting post-secondary students throughout the province to transit and includes improved service and discounted fares.  4.1.  Reducing Duplication with School Buses Reducing duplication between school buses and transit improves the economics of  transit while increasing the efficiency for the transportation system overall. About half of the Municipal Systems now offer fares or services designed for the needs of public school students. While a number of B C Transit systems have offered routes designed to meet the needs of public school students for some time, in 1993/94 a more substantial effort to reduce duplication began when transit schedules in Kamloops and Trail (Kootenay Boundary transit system) were revised to meet the needs of students in these areas. School bus service was withdrawn in concert with the introduction of the adjusted transit service (BC Transit 1994a). In Kamloops, the school district used the resources made available from the change to improve service to outlying areas. B y 1995 students comprised 33% of transit passengers in Kamloops but only 8% in Kelowna (BC Transit 1995c). Integration of school and transit bus services has also taken place in the Central Fraser Valley and in Vernon.  A study currently underway in Prince George between B C Transit, the local school district, and the Ministry of Education is to examine quantitatively the savings that are possible from cutting duplication (Boyd 1998). Integration has also been proposed by 32  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 the regional government in Nanaimo, subject to negotiations with the local school districts. The scope for integration in Nanaimo is somewhat Umited as only about 10% of school district busing is from areas already served by the transit system and students already make up 32% of the transit system's ridership (Nanaimo 1998, Appendix C). Efforts to reduce service duplication with school buses elsewhere in the province have been met with some resistance from school districts. School Boards are often reluctant to reduce duplication since their transportation budget is ear-marked for transportation purposes and any savings are realised by the provincial government, not the school board; thus integration could reduce the school board budget and the number of people it employs (Boyd 1998).  4.2. Attracting Post-Secondary Student Ridership Post-secondary students were identified as a major market of potential transit riders in the survey of industry leaders used in the Municipal Systems Ten-Year Plan (BC Transit 1995c). In recognition of the desirability of increasing post-secondary student ridership, initiatives are being taken in many systems to capture more of this market. Two main strategies are being used to attract post-secondary students to transit. The first is providing service and the second is the use of fare incentives, often as part of local Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs. The provision of express services and fare incentives for post-secondary students were two means by which industry leading smaller Canadian transit systems had been able to attract a large segment of this travel market (BC Transit 1995c).  33  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Two examples of recent service improvements to universities include the 99 B Line limited stop express service in the Vancouver Regional Transit System, which provides frequent and fast service to the University of British Columbia (UBC); and the expansion of service to University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George. The B-Line has been a considerable success with 20% of its riders being former car drivers (BC Transit 1997b, 13). It has also been a factor in generating a 10% increase in transit ridership to U B C between November 1994 and November 1996.  13  Transit ridership in Prince George increased 12 percent from 1993-94 to 1997-98, outpacing population growth of 3.2 percent in the same period (BC Transit 1994b and 14  Appendix Three). At least some of this increase could be attributed to the addition of U N B C services in this period. Fare incentives for post-secondary students vary around the province with some being supplied solely at the initiative of local transit systems while others are cooperative efforts between transit systems and local post-secondary institutions. A prominent example of the former approach is the FastTrax program, which was introduced in 1989 in the Vancouver Regional Transit System. This program allows the 50,000 students in full-time attendance at 13 publicly funded post-secondary institutions in Greater Vancouver to buy a $2 sticker that can be applied to their student card. The sticker, in combination with a one-zone monthly pass, is valid for travel throughout the  13 14  Based on traffic counts provided to the UBC Transportation Advisory Committee. Transit service hours increased 23% over this period, a substantially greater rate than the ridership increase. 34  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Vancouver Regional Transit System. This translates to a maximum 48% discount for a student making a three-zone trip. The program is estimated to result in an annual revenue loss of $2.2 to $2.6 million and is currently being reconsidered in order to reduce the revenue loss and increase equity by extending eligibility to the 20,000 to 25,000 full15  time students at private post-secondary institutions.  16  The Victoria Regional Transit Commission also provides a discounted pass program for public, post-secondary students. This program, introduced in September 1989, allows full-time students to purchase monthly passes at an $8 discount from their face value. The program has since been supplemented by co-operative approaches at two institutions, Camosun College and the University of Victoria (UVic). Camosun College's program began in 1992 when the college introduced a $46 subsidy on the purchase of four monthly bus passes, increasing the total monthly discount on each pass to $19.50. A doubling of daily parking rates (from $1 to $2) was introduced to help pay for the program, along with other amenities such as improved cycling facilities and ride matching services. Bus pass sales at the college increased by 50% in September 1992 from the same month in 1991 and the number of passes sold in 1993/94 was 70% higher than in 1990/91.  15  16  17  17  The five-year plan for the Vancouver Regional Transit System 03C Transit 1997d 117) proposes to increase the total cost recovery from fares from 32% to 34%, so putting pressure on the FastTrax program. FastTrax information derivedfromthe BC Transit web site at http://ww.bctransit.eom/news/traxdisc.htmandhttp://www.b Data provided by Anita Wasiuta of BC Transit, July 17, 1998.  35  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 The University Victoria's bus pass program also began in 1992 and is very similar in its approach to that of Camosun College's program. As at Camosun, increased parking fees are used to fund the program and bicycling and transit infrastructure improvements. Little or no change in travel habits has been observed as a result of the program (Lea 1997, 21). Transit's mode split to UVic has not increased beyond the current level of 11% (Davis 1998). Table 5 summarises the transit pass discounts available for Victoria post-secondary students while Figure 9 illustrates the more than doubling of sales of university and college passes since 1990/91. Table 5: Post-secondary transit fare discounts in Victoria (1997/98) Camosun BC Transit BC Transit Pass validity College Pass College regular pass (months) $42 $42 $50 One $74 * $84 * $100 Two * $126 $104 * $150 Three $132 * $168 * $200 Four  University of Victoria $36 * $72 * $108 $138  Figure 9: University and college pass sales in Victoria 1990/91 to 1997/98  University and College Pass Sales Victoria 1990/91 to 1997/98 45,000 40,000  36,123  35,000  30,552  co  75 30,000 CO  75  25,000  |  20,000  75  15,000  K  10,000  21,012  23,377  26,101  2  7  <  246  18,266  m I —  5,000 0  38,583  -1  m  p 15®  i4<  J__f;  rip.  1990/91 1991/92 1992/93 1993/94 1994/95 1995/96 1996/97 1997/98  Source: BC Transit 36  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 The highly successful U-PASS program of the University of Washington in Seattle is being used as a model for a new T D M program at U B C . Table 6 highlights some of the key features of, and the results achieved by U-PASS since its launch in September 1991.  Table 6: Features and results of the University of Washington's U-PASS program Pass provides free access to regional transit services and carpool parking; also provides subsidised vanpools, a night shuttle, ride matching, bicycle programs, merchant discounts, and discounted daily parking passes.  • Transit pass component is equivalent to a 79% to 90% discount off a regular monthly transit pass, depending on trip length. . i alone mode split reduced from o \% in 1996.  $7 million annual budget funded 52% from user fees, 36% from parking fees, and 12% from other university sources.  . Transit mode split increased from 26%  D  r  3 3  m  v  e  / o m  1  9  8  1939  10  9 t o 2  12%  m  1996,  .„.. . . . ., , . • 68% increase in transit ridership. 75% participation rate. Pass purchase is _. , T T T . A O C 1 • Trips made with a U-PASS represent ' 10% of all Seattle-area transit trips. Source: University of Washington 1997 t  U  y  Transit services to support the U-PASS program are provided on a contract basis with the University compensating transit operators for the amount that they would collect in fares if the U-PASS program did not exist. A comprehensive T D M program for the U B C campus was mandated in the Official Community Plan (OCP) for the area, approved by the Greater Vancouver Regional District in 1997 (Greater Vancouver Regional District 1997). The OCP and an accompanying memorandum of understanding commit U B C to pursuing a T D M plan that will reduce single occupant vehicle travel to the campus by 20% from 1996 levels through measures such as increased parking fees, a U-PASS type program, and  37  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 encouraging telecommuting. A full-time transportation director was hired by the university in mid-1997 to develop the T D M program, now given the moniker " U B C Trek" in recognition of an important event in the university's history. While the Trek program is still under development, a number of initial steps have been taken, such as the creation of a campus bike co-op, an increase in daily student parking fees to make them equivalent to the cost of two transit fares, and the elimination of free parking on the campus periphery. The final Trek program is being designed with the help of many members of the on- and off-campus community and promises to be a home-grown version of U-PASS with the following potential features offered at less than half the cost of a monthly transit pass: • • • • •  unlimited travel on transit ride matching service a night-time on-campus shuttle service subsidised vanpool fares reduced car/van pool parking prices  • • • •  secure bicycle parking reduced-prices for occasional daily parking a guaranteed ride home discounts on goods/services at many merchants  Several transit systems in the Municipal Systems Program also offer discounts to post-secondary students as summarised in Table 7. Table 7: Pass discounts for post-secondary students on Municipal Systems Student price Regular price Savings Validity period System $36.00 25% $27.00 One month Castlegar 4 months (semester) $90.00 $144.00 37% $39.00 15% $33.00 One month Kelowna Regional $106.00 $156.00 32% 4 months (semester) $4.00 6% $3.75 One day Nanaimo Regional $39.00 $46.00 15% One month $184.00 32% $125.00 4 months (semester) $36.00 $48.00 25% One month Prince George $125.00 $192.00 35% 4 months (semester) $20.00 $26.00 23% One month Terrace $70.00 $104.00 33% 4 months (semester) Source: BC Transit public timetables  38  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  4.3. Conclusions Efforts to improve transit use by students in B.C. have been progressive and proactive, although a full evaluation is challenged by the lack of pre- and postimplementation studies to assess the effectiveness of these efforts. Assessing the economic value of school bus and transit service integration is made difficult by the lack of any B C Transit or the school board evaluation of the savings created by reducing duplication. The study now underway in Prince George should help to address this deficiency. Even without full knowledge of the financial benefits brought by integration, a number of advantages can be identified. Economically, integration is supported by the ability of transit buses to carry standees (Kelly 1998). Transit buses used to transport school children, unlike school buses, can be used for providing other services available to the general public. Similarly, transporting school children by transit buses justifies higher transit service levels that can attract other customers to transit. School children benefit with more flexible schedules and route options, and better service coverage. The latter arises since the use of transit bus service is not restricted by the walk limit eligibility requirements that apply to school buses.  18  Providing attractive transit services for British Columbia post-secondary students is made fundamentally challenging by the historical practice of locating institutions of higher learning well away from other major destinations. While industry leader transit  18  B.C. students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 must live at least 4.0 kilometresfromschool in order to be eligible for school bus service. For Grades 4-12 the distance is 4.8 kilometres. (Ministry of Education 1997).  39  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 systems in St. John's, Kingston and Lethbridge benefit from having universities located in or near the urban core, this is generally not the case in British Columbia. The province's first university, the 33,000-student University of British Columbia, is located on the tip of peninsula 12 kilometres from downtown Vancouver, and is buffered from the City by a 763 hectare urban forest. Simon Fraser University, with 17,000 students, is located on top of a 400 metre mountain in suburban Vancouver. Remote locations are common for major institutions in smaller communities as well. The University of Northern British Columbia is situated eight kilometres from downtown Prince George, high on the lip of the bowl that contains the vast majority of the city's residential and commercial areas. The difficulty of serving this location with high quality transit service may help to explain the following quotation from the university's web site:  If you don't have a vehicle you can use the bus and/or a cab, but the best way is find someone who is going into the city: it's usually really easy to bum a ride. 19  A refreshing reversal of historical practices was the selection of a site in north Surrey, immediately adjacent to a SkyTrain rapid transit station, for the new Technical University of British Columbia. Early reports had the university located in Cloverdale, a relatively inefficient site for transit service, in the south-east of Surrey (Munro 1998). Despite impressive increases, the sale of discounted post-secondary transit passes at institutions such as Camosun College and the University of Victoria may not indicate a large increase in transit use. These discounts may have been very effective at getting sgaround.htm  40  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 students to purchase passes at their institutions, rather than at other sales locations, but not very effective at increasing the number of passes sold to students overall. Unfortunately the data that would indicate whether a significant mode shift occurred is not available. There remains a concern that the parking rates at both institutions are still too low to provide a disincentive for automobile commuting (Davis 1998).  The U B C Trek pass program being planned at the University of British Columbia offers the promise of providing conclusive information on the effectiveness of comprehensive post-secondary transit pass and T D M programs. This program is being accompanied by an extensive data collection program, including cordon counts and surveys, that will provide the information necessary for a thorough assessment. A n advantage of accommodating all students on the regular transit system is that their future travel habits may be influenced by a relatively early exposure to the transit system. Students who grow up learning to ride public transit likely will find it easier to use later in life than those who are dependent on school buses or the private automobile from an early age.  41  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Chapter 5.  Expanding Access to Transit  B C Transit systems have made considerable progress in providing access to conventional transit services for persons with disabilities and cyclists. This chapter provides an overview of the development of this increased access and draws some conclusions from the experience to date.  5.1. Accessible Fixed Route Transit 5.1.1. Introduction B C Transit has been a Canadian leader in providing access for persons with disabilities to fixed-route transit systems, as well as being a pioneer in the provision of demand-responsive, specialised transportation services for this market. This section focuses on the programs that have been introduced across the province to provide accessible fixed-route transit services; demand-responsive services are beyond the scope of this study. Note: The issues surrounding the provision of access for persons with disabilities to fixed route transit services are broad and complex. Given the breadth of this study, they can only be given relatively cursory coverage here.  5.1.2. Vancouver Regional Transit System The first conventional transit services in British Columbia to be made accessible to persons with disabilities were the SkyTrain and SeaBus. These systems, with their barrier-free, proof-of-payment fare system and level vehicle loading arrangements, were ideal candidates for the provision of access for persons with disabilities. Convincing the political masters that SkyTrain should be accessible took some effort but was successful  42  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 as the system opened in 1986 with elevators at all but one station. SeaBus was made 20  accessible in 1986 with the installation of an elevator at Waterfront Station in Vancouver, providing a fully accessible interchange between SkyTrain and SeaBus (BC Transit 1996). Wheelchair accessible, lift-equipped buses first entered service in Greater Vancouver in September of 1990, following a June 1989 announcement that all future bus orders would be for lift-equipped vehicles. (BC Transit 1990a). The decision to purchase these buses was made by the B C Transit board on the recommendation of the Vancouver Regional Transit Commission and the Custom Transit Task Force of the board. Until this decision, B C Transit's policy had been to accommodate persons with disabilities using the handyDART system — a demand-responsive, custom transit service offering door-to-door transportation. The 1980 creation of the handyDART system had resulted from the poor outcome of a nine-month test of lift-equipped buses in Victoria 21  in 1979-80 (BC Transit 1989, 2 and 1990c, 16).  B C Transit bought a total of 288 lift-equipped buses from 1990 to 1995 , placing 22  them in service on diesel bus routes around the Vancouver region. Where possible, these buses were allocated to routes serving major locations of residence, and trip destinations  20  21  22  According to Tom Parkinson, the deputy project administrator for, SkyTrain'sfirstphase. The one station without an elevator is the busy Granville Station in downtown Vancouver. No elevator is provided as a result of the awkward geometry of the station, which has the street entrances located ovahalf a blockfromthe station platforms. An elevator was to be installed when buildings located above the platforms were redeveloped but this has not yet occurred. The negative resultsfromthe test included low usage, high costs, and unreliable and troublesome lift operation. CUTA Forum 1996 11-12, p. 50.  43  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 for persons with disabilities, such as the  Figure 10: Low-floor bus with ramp deployed  False Creek South route. In 1995 a decision was made to purchase low-floor buses (see Figure 10), following the positive experience of Victoria with this type of vehicle. A n extensive report comparing low-floor and lift-equipped buses, co-sponsored by B C Transit, was published in 1995 (Geehan 1995). Low-floor buses were introduced in Greater Vancouver in early 1996. B y September of that year there were 108 standard length low-floor buses and 19 low-floor minibuses operating in the Vancouver Regional Transit System (BC Transit 1996). Deliveries since 1996 have resulted in more than half the bus fleet being accessible to wheelchairs and scooters. 21 articulated low-floor buses entered service on the limited-stop B-Line route in September 1998. Despite this progress, non-accessible electric trolleybuses operate the major trunk routes in the City of Vancouver, carrying 35% of the bus system's passenger trips. The current trolleybus fleet is believed to have another five or six years of life left, at which point an accessible replacement fleet, possibly using a different type of propulsion system, will be purchased (BC Transit 1998). The West Coast Express commuter rail service was designed to be compliant with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and is fully accessible to persons with disabilities. One car of each train is accessible to scooters and wheelchairs through  44  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 the use of a boarding ramp that bridges the gap between the train door and a specially raised platform area.  5.1.3. Victoria Regional Transit System B C Transit's Greater Victoria Regional Transit System was the first transit system in Canada to introduce low-floor buses in widespread application, with nine of the vehicles brought into service in the Spring of 1992 (BC Transit 1992). Currently just over half of Victoria's 200 bus fleet is composed of low-floor vehicles and all future orders, including 11 double-deck buses to arrive in 1999, will be low-floor. Assuming that the remaining high-floor buses will have a 20-year life, the Victoria system should be 100% low-floor by 2011 (Davis 1998).  5.1.4. Municipal Systems The provision of accessible service in the Municipal Systems has increased greatly since Terrace became the first fully accessible conventional transit system in Canada in 1990 (BC Transit 1991). Since 1993, the purchase of low-floor buses for 23  service expansions and vehicle replacement in the Municipal Systems has greatly expanded accessibility. Penticton led the way with Canada's first 100% low-floor bus fleet in June 1993, introduced as a means of better serving the city's large senior citizen population (BC Transit 1995a, 21). Forty-nine low-floor buses were added to the Municipal Systems fleet in 1996-97 alone, representing almost one-third of the program's  45  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 fleet (BC Transit 1997b). In 1998,11 of the municipal systems offered service that was either fully or partially accessible to persons with disabilities (see Appendix Two for list).  5.1.5. Experience with Low-Floor Buses Given the popularity of low-floor buses in British Columbia, it is worth taking a look at their advantages and some of the experience other Canadian transit systems have had with them. Some of the advantages of low-floor transit vehicles over lift-equipped vehicles include: • • • • •  Accessible and comfortable transportation for all passengers, especially persons using wheelchairs or other mobility devices; Easier access for the elderly, who previously had difficulty boarding conventional buses; Popularity among other passengers (especially those pushing strollers or carrying heavy shopping bags); Reduced dwell times (time spent at bus stops); Increased patronage and greater productivity resulting from the advantages listed above, (adapted from Booz • Allen & Hamilton 1995, 4) Low-floor bus purchases have been encouraged by provincial governments  elsewhere in Canada. The Ontario government mandated that all new transit buses purchased with provincial funding after July 1993 be low floor, although subsequent provincial funding cuts have made this edict ineffective. The Alberta government has 24  also offered financial incentives for low-floor bus purchases, leading to large low-floor bus fleets in Calgary and Edmonton (Delcan Corporation 1994).  23  Transit service in Terrace began using a lift-equipped van that was also used for the local handyDART service. In 1992 a high-floor bus entered service and the conventional system lost its accessibility; however, this relieved the accessible vanfromoperating fixed route service and so allowed handyDART service to be greatly improved (Docherty 1998).  46  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 The Canadian experience with low-floor buses has not been entirely positive. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the introduction of low-floor buses to heavily used bus routes in the Vancouver Regional Transit System lead to some overcrowding. Such impressions would appear to be validated from work that has shown low-floor buses to have a 15% capacity penalty when compared with high-floor buses, due to the intrusiveness of the wheel wells and the large dead space behind the rear bench seat (Delcan Corporation 1994). Early experience at the Toronto Transit Commission with a different model of low-floor bus than that used in B.C. indicates that low-floor buses reach pass-up capacity at 66 riders per bus, versus 82 riders per bus for high-floor buses on the same route (Toronto Transit Commission 1998). Maintenance costs are also reportedly higher for low-floor buses, with Calgary Transit reporting a 35% increase in costs with low-floor buses of the model used by B C Transit (Toronto Transit Commission 1997).  5.2.  Integrating Transit With Cycling  5.2.1. Background Cycling has enjoyed increased interest from governments in recent years as an understanding of the environmental, economic and public health benefits of this travel mode has become widespread (see Lowe 1989 and McCIintock 1992 as examples). In response to this trend, transportation policy in British Columbia is evolving to give  24  A June 1997 Toronto Transit Commission roster indicates that the TTC received 135 high-floor buses in 1996. Low-floor buses did not enter service with the TTC until February 1998 (Toronto Transit Commission 1998).  47  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 greater recognition to the needs of cyclists and to promote cycling as a transportation alternative that is integrated with transit and pedestrian access. At the provincial level, the Ministry of Transportation and Highways has a policy of making allowances for cyclists wherever a provincial highway is being constructed, reconstructed or modified (Ministry of Transportation and Highways 1992, 6). The adoption of local cycling plans has been encouraged by the B C Transportation Financing Authority's (BCTFA) Cycling Network Program, which provides cost-shared funding on a 50/50 basis for cycling projects that are part of adopted local cycling network plans. This program has been in place since 1995 and provided funding in excess of $1.9 million to 25 projects in 19 jurisdictions in 1996/97 ( B C T F A 1997). The integration of transit with cycling is readily justified by the complementary each mode can play in providing transportation alternatives. As illustrated in Figure 11, cycling and public transit services are both far more efficient users of energy than the private automobile. Integrated cycling and transit facilities work symbiotically by providing cyclists using the service faster speeds, a ride through barriers to cyclists, and shelter and rest. By providing bicycle storage facilities at transit stops, and/or by permitting bicycle carriage on transit vehicles, the accessibility of transit can be increased beyond the standard 400 to 450 metre walking radius from bus stops.  25  25  Studies in Calgary and Vancouver have shown that customers will walk up to twice this standard to reach a rail station rather than a bus stop (O'Sullivan et al. 1996).  48  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Figure 11: Energy use in operation of urban transport modes, United States, 1989 Bicycle = 92 kJ/person-km, car fuel economy 15.7 L/100 km Walk  4) o o « c —  8. !. ._ l— v >  §g 2  B u s transit (20) Rail transit (50)  " '  V a n p o o l (7)  n 13 10  2*  Carpool(2.2) - •  C a r (1.14)  •••  '  .  „  152 60  Car(1) 10  20  30  40  50  60  70  Bicycle equivalents  Source: Pendakur et al. 1995 Bicycle racks on buses have been adopted much more rapidly in the United States than in Canada. Early applications in San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle were all designed to allow cyclists to use bike rack-equipped buses to cross bridges closed to bicycle traffic. The use of racks in the U.S. accelerated greatly following the introduction of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and revisions to the Federal Transit Act in 1992. These legislative changes introduced 80 to 90% federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian transit facilities, including bike racks on buses and bicycle parking (Doolittle and Porter 1994). Bicycle access to transit vehicles is now almost universal in Washington state (Washington State Department of Transportation 1997).  Bike access to buses in the United States has been provided variously using frontmounted racks, rear-mounted racks, under floor baggage bays, and by allowing bicycles to be brought into the passenger compartment. O f these options, front-mounted racks  49  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 have proven to be the most desirable choice based on safety and security, maintenance and usability criteria. A drawback to the front-mounted rack is its limited capacity of two, exceptionally four, bicycles, depending on the design. Higher capacity racks extract a price in increased complexity, reduced ease of use, and increased loading and unloading times (Doolittle and Porter 1994). The delay from loading bikes on to front-mounted bike racks with two spaces is estimated at 60 seconds (BC Transit 1994d, 10). 26  5.2.2. Vancouver Regional Transit System The introduction of bike racks to the transit system in Vancouver began on much the same course as programs in several American cities as a means of getting cyclists through a barrier to cycling, in this case the George Massey tunnel under the Fraser River. The tunnel is one of only four road crossings of the Main Arm of the Fraser River in Greater Vancouver and provides access to the B C Ferries service between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay. The Ministry of Transportation and Highways inaugurated a summeronly bicycle shuttle service through the tunnel in 1975 and this service continues today. In 1978 B.C. Hydro, then the operator of the transit system, carried out a study of the feasibility of carrying bicycles through the tunnel on buses using rear-mounted racks; the study rejected the idea, a hardly surprising recommendation given the negative  Geoff Straw, Transit Manager for the Logan Transit District in Utah, reports a 20 second bike loading time for the same type of racks used by BC Transit in Vancouver (e-mail post to the transit-prof list, 14 September, 1998.)  50  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 experience with this type of rack elsewhere. A 1982 report by the G V R D Transit 27  Department (Greater Vancouver Regional District 1982) concluded that providing bike rack-equipped bus service through the tunnel was feasible but that it would be inappropriate to introduce such a service at a time of fiscal restraint and service cutbacks. The existence of the bicycle shuttle and the expected low and recreational use of bike racks were also contributing factors to the decision not to proceed. A further study in 1990 recommended some improvements to bike access to transit by proposing the installation of bicycle lockers at key locations and an expansion of bicycle access on SeaBus (see below). The 1990 report, however, recommended against bicycle racks on buses for fear of, "major implication on bus operations." (BC Transit 1990b)  A favourable recommendation for bike  Figure 12: Cyclist loading bike on a rack-equipped bus in Vancouver  racks on buses came in a June 1994 report that recommended that the #404 bus route, connecting the Vancouver International Airport to Ladner and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal via the Massey Tunnel, be equipped with bike racks as a pilot project (BC Transit 1994c). Bike rack service on this route began in July 1994 and was expanded to two more routes through the Massey Tunnel in June 1995 to provide access to downtown Vancouver, Tsawwassen 27  San Diego Transit used rear-mounted racks from 1976 to the mid-1990s, when front-mounted racks were adopted. The drawbacks of rear-mounted racks included: obstructed access to the engine compartment, an inability of the driver to see the racks for safety and security purposes, and a need to remove the racks when cleaning the bus. Rear-mounted racks were tested briefly in Seattle but rejected in favour of frontmounted racks (Doolittle and Porter 1994).  51  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 and White Rock (Ryan 1998). While not all buses on these routes were rack-equipped at first, in June 1998 all but some peak and late evening trips became rack-equipped. Bicycle loading and unloading is permitted only at designated stops, such as route termini and major transfer points. Bicycle accessible service was expanded to the #99 B-Line limited stop bus service on the Broadway-Lougheed corridor in September 1998, thanks to an innovative 50/50 cost sharing agreement between B C Transit and the university's student society. The funding of racks for the dedicated B-Line fleet was facilitated by the arrival of a new fleet of low-floor, articulated buses for this route (Ryan 1998).  The first transit service to be made accessible to bicycles in Vancouver (and British Columbia) was not a bus route but rather the SeaBus ferry across Burrard Inlet between downtown Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver. SeaBus service began in 1977 with bicycle access being introduced in 1979. From 1979 to 1990 bicycles were only permitted access on weekends and holidays and a full adult fare was charged for each bicycle. Bicycle access to SeaBus was expanded to all off-peak hours in October 1990 and the extra fare was dropped in December the same year (BC Transit 1991). Full access for bicycles during all hours of SeaBus service was introduced in September 1992 (BC Transit 1993). While there have been many requests to provide bicycle access to the cars of the SkyTrain Advanced Light Rapid Transit (ALRT) system, this is not considered feasible by B C Transit for a number of reasons. The small, often crowded cars, automatic trains, safety regulations, emergency braking, and unmanned stations would all increase the risk and liability to passengers if bicycles were carried (BC Transit 1990b). Whether bicycles 52  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 can be accommodated on the Broadway-Lougheed rapid transit line announced in 1998 remains to be deteraiined.  28  The West Coast Express commuter rail service began with bicycle facilities already in place. Each commuter rail car includes tie-downs for two bicycles and all stations except Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver have bike lockers. A l l stations have bike racks for casual users. Lockers are managed by a private company that also manages the park-and-ride lots along the route and are rented at a rate of $45 for three months, plus a $15 key deposit; for comparison, automobile parking at the stations is $1.00 a day or $15 amonth. A $1.00 per trip or $15 per month fare applies to bicycles brought on the trains. Providing bicycle storage at transit stops in Vancouver began with the provision of bike racks at most SkyTrain stations and two park-and-rides. Usage of these facilities was low, however, due to the poor design of the racks, which did not allow the bike frame to be locked to the rack with a U-lock; and due to the exposure to weather, vandalism and theft that is an inherent problem with outdoor racks. A pilot bike locker program for the Vancouver Regional Transit System was recommended in 1990 (BC Transit 1990b) and the first lockers were introduced in December 1991. Lockers were made available at two suburban park-and-ride lots and at the Scott Road SkyTrain station, which was the eastern terminus of SkyTrain at the time. Lockers were installed at the King George SkyTrain station in 1995 to coincide with the extension of SkyTrain service  28  The author has heard conflicting information on this subjectfromproject staff and consultants.  53  >  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 to that station. The lockers are administered by Cycling B C , an organisation representing bicycle riders, and are leased at a rate of $30 per three months, plus a $30 key deposit. A plan to install 500 additional lockers over the next five years has been delayed by the transition of transit governance in the Vancouver region from B C Transit to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (Ryan 1998). Figure 13: Monthly SeaBus bicycle use 1989-1998 12000 Second Narrows Bridge reconstruction  10000 in  _ _  _ _ I  8000 Bicycles allowed at all times  6000 Weekday off-peak  4000  access begins (Oct); Extra fare removed (Dec)  2000  Jan-89 Jan-90 Jan-91 Jan-92 Jan-93 Jan-94 Jan-95 Jan-96 Jan-97 Jan-98  Source: BC Transit The use of bicycle facilities witfiin the Vancouver Regional Transit System is reportedly increasing, although accurate counts for bicycle use are only available for the SeaBus, as shown in Figure 13. A clear link between increased bicycle use and the policy changes mentioned earlier is apparent. Monthly bike use on the SeaBus from 1993 to 1995 averaged a little over 2,000 bikes a month in winter to nearly 7,000 a month in the summer. The reconstruction of the Second Narrows Bridge in the summer of 1996  54  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 resulted in a peak of 11,000 monthly users, accompanied by a similar proportional increase in total SeaBus passenger counts (Ryan 1998). Counts of bicycles on buses are sketchy since there is no formal reporting system; at one time drivers were asked to radio transit control whenever a rack was used but there was much under-reporting. Low estimates suggest that in 1994 off-season rack use ranged from 2 to 60 times a month, increasing to 15 to 260 times a month in 1996 (Ryan 1998). Anecdotal reports indicate that cyclists are often forced to wait for two or three buses at the Tsawwassen Ferry terminal as the demand for bike-on-bus service at that location is very high on summer weekends. Bicycle use on the West Coast Express is reported to be five to six bicycles per train, about half capacity. While counting the number of bicycle tickets sold might seem a good way to assess use, this has been thwarted by the use of the low-value bicycle ticket by staff testing ticket machines, and by passengers using the bicycle ticket to (incorrectly) add value to their existing tickets (Wozencroft 1998). Low levels of bicycle locker use at West Coast Express stations have been raised as a concern and this is a topic for future study, although the relatively high cost of leasing the lockers is one possible cause.  B C Transit is developing a comprehensive new bike-and-ride policy that is expected to give priority for rack installation to those routes that travel longer distances, cross barriers to cyclists, and operate with limited stops. Unfortunately for cyclists, the transition to the G V T A is slowing the process by which such policies are adopted.  55  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 B C Transit's proposed policy for installing bike racks on buses is generally in agreement with the policy of Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), a 500 member alternative transportation advocacy and education group. BEST would like to see bike access to all transit buses and future rapid transit lines but sees the longer, inter-municipal bus routes as the highest priority for bike rack installation (Ho 1998). A second cycling advocacy group, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition is also in favour of the installation of racks on all buses (Wushcke 1998).  5.2.3. Victoria Regional Transit System Bike racks on buses were first introduced to the Victoria Regional Transit System in late 1997, about a year after a formal process to approve their installation began. The introduction of the program was encouraged by the chair of the local transit commission, also a member of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. B C Transit, following the recommendation of the Coalition, installed the first 35 racks on buses used for the longhaul routes to the Western Communities, Sooke, and the Saanich Peninsula. Unlike in Vancouver, cyclists can load and unload their bikes at almost all stops along the routes, with the main exception being at the congested stops along Douglas Street in the downtown core. The racks are available for use even if the bus is not operating on one of the designated rack-equipped routes. Casual users have dominated the use of bike racks in Victoria to date, although there is a small regular clientele as well. One of the main benefits of the program has been its public relations value since the racks demonstrate that transit is doing "the right  56  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 thing." While there was some initial resistance on the part of bus drivers to the rack program (Curtis 1997), no serious problems have surfaced in practice (Davis 1998). Victoria has also followed Vancouver's lead by installing bike lockers at two suburban locations. While one location at a suburban transit exchange is not well used, the second location, on the Saanich Peninsula, has proven popular with reverse commuters who catch the bus from central Victoria then ride several kilometres to a work site located some distance from the nearest transit route (Davis 1998).  5.2.4. Municipal Systems Programs to integrate cycling and transit are underway in several of the Municipal Systems. Nelson has had bike racks on their buses since 1994. Buses in the Kamloops, Kelowna and Whistler systems all became fully bike rack equipped in mid-1998, after varying periods of consideration. Racks are being phased in on the Nanaimo Regional Transit System. The Penticton conventional bus system and the Naramata paratransit system that connects with it have one rack each (Masterton 1998). Bike racks on buses have been a great success in Kamloops since the first eight racks were installed in 1997. B y mid-1998, 25 racks had been installed and were seeing intensive use with many customers calling to find out which trips are rack-equipped (Kelly 1998). The first consideration of racks in Kelowna was in 1995, with approval of installation taking about a year. B y mid-1998 all buses were rack-equipped and use was reportedly heavy, especially on routes serving lower density areas in Westbank and 57  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Winfield. Additional developments in Kelowna include the insertion of a map of bike lanes and routes into the local transit rider's guide and plans to install bike lockers at the new city centre transit exchange (Campbell 1998). Racks were first installed on the Whistler system in early 1998 and by midAugust all buses in the fleet were rack equipped. The response to the racks has been very favourable and they are used frequently. Whistler's bike racks will be removed in winter when ski racks are returned to the fleet (Mannheim 1998). In Nanaimo eight rack-equipped buses are already in service and are assigned to routes serving Malaspina University College and outlying neighbourhoods. Nanaimo's transit business plan proposes greater integration between cycling and transit as one of its community objectives (Nanaimo 1998,1). It is anticipated that the entire fleet will be made bike accessible within two years (Donnelly 1998).  5.3. Conclusions Providing access to transit for persons with disabilities and cyclists is difficult to justify based solely on increased productivity or other economic measures. Current bus designs are unable to accommodate more than two wheelchairs or scooters, and two bicycles per vehicle, severely limiting any possible ridership gains. Rather, the basis for the introduction of services to accommodate these groups is based more on social justice and societal demand principles. A major exception is for those systems that cater to a large senior citizen population where the benefits of accessible service can be enjoyed by many.  58  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Figure 14: Proportion of B . C . residents over 65 and 80 years of age  CO  0.  0% 4— 1990  ,  1995  ,  2000  ,  .  2005  ,  2010 Year  ,  2015  ,  2020  1  1  2025  Source: B.C. Stats Socially, accessible conventional transit improves the integration of persons with disabilities within the community by allowing them greater independence than specialised transportation services that require advance booking. This greater level of freedom of mobility is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act (Geehan 1995). Demographic trends underline the importance of providing broader access to public transportation services since an ageing population will produce a greater demand for accessible transit. In the corning years the proportion of people over the age of 65 in Greater Vancouver will increase from 12.0% in 1993 to 12.2% in 2006. The number of persons 75 years and over will increase more rapidly, from 5.1% to 5.6% (BC Transit 1997b). Figure 14 illustrates the ageing trend for the provincial population. This ageing trend is expected to bring increased demand for  59  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 accessible conventional transit services, especially among ambulatory seniors who have difficulty with stairs but who can board a low-floor bus with relative ease. The potential economic advantage in having accessible conventional transit services reduce the demand for custom transit services appears to be more theoretical than practical since the number of trips per handyDART user in the Vancouver Regional Transit System is projected to increase by 10 percent in 1998/99 from 1992/93 levels. It thus appears unreasonable to expect much of a substitution of handyDART trips, at $18.18 per ride in 1996/97, with conventional transit trips at $3.99 per trip (BC Transit 1997a). Providing access for cyclists to transit services is likewise hard to justify from a narrow economic interpretation. Nevertheless, giving cyclists access to transit has a number of benefits that contribute to providing transportation choices, including the following: • supporting other investments for cyclists such as bike routes; • providing cyclists access across barriers to cycling such as tunnels and bridges at a lower cost than reconstruction; • expanding the effective radius of non-automobile access to transit stops; and • improving the public perception of the inclusiveness and environmental responsibility of transit systems. A key area where providing bicycle access to transit can be more cost-effective than alternatives is when bike-and-ride and park-and-ride facilities are compared. Bicycle racks providing two spaces cost about $1,000 each to purchase and install. Installed bike lockers cost $750 to $1,500 per space, depending on the model (Ryan 1998). In  60  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 comparison, a recently built 55-space park-and-ride in suburban Victoria cost $6,000 per parking stall (Actran Consultants 1997, 10). The Dutch railways have found that guarded, underground bicycle parking is less than one-tenth the cost per space of automobile parkand-ride construction (Replogle 1993). The lower unit costs of providing bike-and-ride access suggest that in an environment that is supportive of cycling, expenditures can be saved, and/or access provided to more customers, by incorporating a bike-and-ride component in park-and-ride programs.  61  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Chapter 6.  Marketing Transit Services  Marketing has been central to two recently introduced transit services in B.C., the West Coast Express and the Whistler Transit System, as discussed in this chapter. A n overview of the Whistler system is also supplied to provide context for the importance of marketing in this system. A discussion of the use by B C Transit systems of the world wide web as an evolving marketing tool is also included.  6.1.  West Coast Express: A Strong Customer Orientation The West Coast Express, British Columbia's first commuter rail service, began  operation between Mission and downtown Vancouver in November 1995. The service operates in the peak direction only with five inbound trains in the morning and five outbound trains in the afternoon covering the eight station, 65 kilometre route in 73 minutes. Innovations introduced by the service include its bicycle and wheelchair accessibility (see pages 50 and 42) and its strong customer focus. From its start, the West Coast Express has had a very strong orientation to customers, based on the knowledge that most commuter rail riders are 'choice' riders who are choosing to leave their car at home or at a park-and-ride. West Coast Express trains and stations have a distinct visual identity from B C Transit's services, although fares and schedules are integrated with the bus transit system. Regular surveys of riders are done to track satisfaction on a continuous basis. The most frequent survey is a daily on-train survey that is administered by a marketing consultant using a touch screen laptop computer. The results are tabulated monthly with trouble spots, such as station facilities, staff and trains, identified and steps taken to correct any deficiencies. 62  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 A novel feature introduced to the West Coast Express in 1997 was the start of 'Brain Train" service. A local community college offers 45 minute lessons on a variety of topics of interest to commuters, such as public speaking and foreign languages for popular tourist destinations. Other innovative marketing strategies include the promotion of a self-guided circle trip for recreational riders using West Coast Express and B C Transit services, and the use of West Coast Express for weekend excursions out of the city. Since its inception, the West Coast Express has received four first place marketing and communications awards from the American Public Transit Association (BC Transit 1997b, 13). The customer focus of West Coast Express is clearly paying off since 89% of riders indicate that they are 'delighted' with the service and 20% indicate that the West Coast Express was a factor in their choice of residence location. The service has a 14% share of qualifying trips in its service area, compared to 5% for buses and 73% for automobiles. The system is carrying about 7,000 riders a day, or 90% of seated capacity (Wozencroft 1998). There is a clear need for additional passenger spaces on the line since a recommended design capacity for commuter rail is 90% of seated capacity (Parkinson and Fisher 1996, 99).  6.2.  Whistler; A special market  6.2.1. Situation The transit system in the Resort Municipahty of Whistler, inaugurated in 1991, is a unique member of the Municipal Systems Program. Whistler is located 120 kilometres north of Vancouver and had an estimated resident population of 8,100 residents in 1997.  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Table 8: Relative performance of the Whistler Transit System Service measure  Whistler  4.05 Service hours per capita 129.8 Rides per capita 32.1 Rides per hour 50.3% Cost recovery Sources: Appendix Three and BC Transit 1997a  Municipal Systems Average 0.68 13.7 20.1 28.4%  Vancouver Region(96-97) 2.03 66.1 32.6 32.0% 29  In recent years the town has experienced rapid growth while broadening its role from being a winter-oriented ski resort to an all-season destination. Despite its small size, Whistler enjoys higher transit service levels than can be found in any other Municipal Systems service area. In the winter months peak service operates as frequently as every 10 minutes while service is provided for 21 hours a day, seven days a week year-round. Ridership remains strong well into the late evening, unlike the situation in the non-resort systems (BC Transit 1997e). Table 8 relates the performance of the Whistler system to that of the Municipal Systems Program as a whole and, to the Vancouver Regional Transit System. As shown in the table, the performance of the Whistler system more closely resembles that of the Vancouver system than that of the other Municipal Systems.  The Whistler system started with five buses, currently operates eight, and will add four additional vehicles in late 1998. Long-range plans for the system envision a peak service requirement of 30 buses for the 2003-04 ski season, accompanied by a three-fold increase in service hours (BC Transit 1997e). Early 1999 will see the arrival of four, custom-built 9 metre low-floor buses from Dennis Plaxton in Britain. These buses will be  64  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 specially designed for the Whistler environment and feature two doors, an uncommon feature on a short bus, to speed loading and unloading. They will also be fitted with wheelchair ramps and so introduce accessible transit service to Whistler (Mannheim 1998). A March 1996 passenger survey determined that almost half of Whistler transit riders travel for work purposes with a little over 25% using the system for accessing skiing (BC Transit 1997e). A n April 1997 survey of employees at seven major work locations found that the percentage of employees taking transit to work ranged from 5% to 28% depending on the work location (Reid Crowther et al 1997). A challenge for the Whistler system is serving long-distance commuters who live in Pemberton or Squamish in order to escape the high housing costs of the resort village. Currently commuting from these locations is only possible by automobile or private intercity bus.  6.2.2. Marketing A fundamental aspect of providing transit service in Whistler is meeting the special needs of its resort situation. Marketing efforts to capture the recreational market need to be targeted at casual users while the system must also work to provide more traditional transit services to local residents. The provision of ski racks (see Figure 16) on all buses during the winter, and bike racks the rest of the year, is evidence of the need to 29  The cost recovery for the Vancouver Regional Transit System is negatively affected by debt service costs with 36.4% of 1996-97 expenditures being allocated to this function. Much of this debt was Footnotes continued on next page. 65  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Figure 16: Skiers boarding ski rack equipped bus in Whistler  Figure 15: Cover of the Winter 1997/98 Whistler Rider's Guide  Local  W h i s t l e r Transit S y s t e m  serve non-traditional transit markets. While a number of other BC Transit systems provide bike rack equipped service, the only other BC Transit system operating ski rack equipped service is the Kootenay Boundary Transit System, which provides ski-rack equipped bus service from Fruitvale, Trail and Rossland to Red Mountain.  Making the Whistler system attractive to riders has taken a multifaceted approach. Substantial and attractive transit shelters are provided by developers as part of their community amenity contribution (Mannheim 1998). These shelters provide waiting places for intending passengers and also function as highly visible advertisements for transit. To make the system more accessible to prospective customers, a full-colour easy-to-use, rider's guide is aggressively distributed.  incurred by the construction of the SkyTrain advanced light rapid transit system during a period of high Footnotes continued on next page.  66  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 The Winter edition of this guide (see Figure 15) features an oblique view of the village and the ski areas for easy reader comprehension, as well as a standard route map. The effectiveness of the guide was recognised by the American Public Transit Association in 1994-95 when it named the Whistler Rider's Guide as the best public timetable for a transit system with under 50 vehicles (BC Transit 1995a). Strategies to build the core commuter and recreational markets include a pilot employee pass program for municipal staff and promotions to casual users. Efforts targeted at casual riders include radio advertisements, free New Year's Eve service, and the introduction of a convenient, stored-value fare card. Many hotels in the village area also mention the availability of high quality local transit service to their guests; this often leads to guests deciding that renting a car for their visit is unnecessary (Mannheim 1998). The "branding" of the Whistler Transit System is being extended to the bus fleet. Each bus is emblazoned with, "Spirit of Whistler," below the windscreen in order to give some local flavour to the standard B C Transit colours of red and blue stripes on a white body. In a bid to further increase the system's identity, the local transit committee has hired a consultant to investigate creating a new livery especially for Whistler (Stonehouse 1998).  6.2.3. Potential B C Transit Ski Services Providing service to ski areas aside from Whistler and Red Mountain is a potential market for B C Transit in partnership with resort operators elsewhere in the  interest rates in the early to mid 1980s. 67  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 province. Two possible routes would be from Vernon to Silver Star, a distance of 18 kilometres; and from Kelowna to Big White, a 60 kilometre trip. These services could follow the Red Mountain example or that of Link Transit in Washington State. Link provides ski bus service from Wenatchee to the Mission Ridge ski area, a distance of about 20 kilometres. Financial support for this operation comes from the ski area and the local hotel and motel association (Washington State Department of Transportation 1997, 70). Reducing the attractiveness for B C Transit of the Big White service is the long distance involved and the presence of a private operator on the route.  6.3.  Using the World Wide Web The rapidly developing use of the World Wide Web as a marketing medium is an  area where B C Transit systems have made some progress, especially for the Vancouver and Victoria systems. Victoria was the first B C Transit operation, and one of the first in Canada, to introduce on-line schedules, albeit very simply presented. The web site for the Vancouver system introduced an advanced schedule query system in mid-1998 that allows customers with web access to view arrival and departure times at any pair of stops along a route. For information on the Municipal Systems, a list of telephone information numbers is provided on B C Transit's Victoria web site. O f the municipal systems, only two feature on-line schedule information and in both cases this is provided by the 30  operating company.  Cowichan Valley and Kitimat. 68  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 The local government partners in the Municipal Systems Program are generally very poor in advertising their transit services on the web; many do not even mention their transit systems on their municipal sites. Even in Kamloops, where the local government is very supportive of transit, the only information provided is the local transit information telephone number and this is hidden in the municipal telephone directory. In contrast to the experience in British Columbia, 16 of the 25 public transit agencies in Washington State feature web sites with on-line schedules, two have sites without schedules, and 31  seven do not have web sites. However, the situation in B.C. is likely to improve as use of the web increases and transit providers become more aware of its capabilities. The Regional District of Nanaimo plans to have bus schedules and maps available on their web site by the fall of 1998 (Donnelly 1998).  6.4. Conclusions Innovative marketing approaches have been very successful in promoting new B C Transit services such as the West Coast Express and the Whistler Transit System, as reflected in their high ridership and performance results. As evidenced by the West Coast Express, market surveys can be used effectively to monitor customer satisfaction and determine the aspects of service that need improvement. A key area for future marketing initiatives should be in increasing the availability of transit information on the World Wide Web. Two key markets well suited to the use of the web to provide transit information are students, given their wide access to the web;  31  Includes three systems on the Olympic Peninsula whose schedules have been posted by a third party.  69  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 and tourists, who can use the internet to easily determine service availability while planning a trip. With the metropolitan systems in Vancouver and Victoria already on-line with schedule and route information, attention could be directed to having B C Transit's Victoria office publish Municipal Systems Rider's Guides to the web. This would offer economies of scale and co-ordination that would not be possible with the current piecemeal operator and municipal approach, as well as being consistent with the existing production of Municipal Systems Program printed timetables by B C Transit staff.  70  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Chapter 7.  Providing an Integrated Public Transportation System  A newcomer to B.C. might, upon seeing that all the transit buses in the province are the same colours and bear the B C Transit name, expect that the provision of transit service and information throughout the province would be well integrated. Unfortunately this is not the case. Despite B C Transit's role in planning and managing all transit systems in the province, there is little semblance of a co-ordinated provincial system, at least from the customer's view. Rectifying this deficiency would improve the ease of travelling without an automobile and realise what one would expect to be an innovative benefit of arising from B C Transit's existence. This chapter examines the current state of integration of B C Transit services with other transportation providers, and considers some measures that could be taken to improve the connectivity of the public transportation network in the province. Where appropriate, reference is made to the more integrated transit systems in neighbouring Washington State.  7.1.  Connections Between BC Transit Systems Connections between B C Transit systems are a rarity. The only direct connection  available between conventional transit systems in the province is between the Nanaimo Regional and Parksville-Qualicum Beach transit systems, although other connections can be made via B C Ferries (see section 7.2.1). Three paratransit systems provide connectivity with adjacent Municipal Systems Program systems, as described in note 1 on page 5.  71  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 The situation in Washington State is quite different since integration among neighbouring systems is encouraged by the state Department of Transportation and local political pressure (Rodman 1998). The 12 transit systems in the Puget Sound area and on the Olympic Peninsula all interconnect, allowing, for example, a trip of over 500 kilometres in length to be made from Seattle to Astoria, Oregon via the Olympic Peninsula. The issue of providing regional services, including expanding the availability of connections between B C Transit systems, is addressed in more detail in section 7.3.  7.2.  Connections with Other Public Transportation Modes  7.2.1. Ferry Connections Intermodal connections between  J" * f Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay route 1 7 :  B  C  1  i n  A c t i v e  a s s  o  n  t  h  e  D  B C Transit services and B C Ferries are offered at a number of locations along the B.C. coast. The two ferry terminals in Greater Vancouver, at Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen, are both well served by buses of the Vancouver Regional Transit System. In Victoria, the major Swartz Bay terminal has regular, direct bus service to downtown Victoria while the minor tenriinal at Brentwood Bay is served less frequently. Municipal Systems bus services connect with B C Ferries at Departure Bay and Nanaimo Harbour (Nanaimo), Campbell River, Langdale (Sunshine Coast) and Powell River. A number of connections are also available in the Kootenay region between transit services in the Castlegar and Nelson areas, and free Ministry of Transportation and Highways ferries. 72  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Providing transit services to ferry  Figure 18: Sunshine Coast Transit System bus at Langdale Ferry Terminal  routes has proven to be a growth market for transit, especially on routes with heavy tourist and commuter traffic. Demand for transit connections at the Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay ferry terminals is such that overload buses are frequently operated to coincide with busy arrivals and departures. Increasing express bus service to the Horseshoe Bay ferry tenninal, in response to ridership growth, is a priority for the West Vancouver transit system (BC Transit 1997a). The Sunshine Coast Transit System, which serves the Langdale terminal of one of the three ferry routes that originate at Horseshoe Bay, has added service as commuter traffic has increased. Illustrating the importance of this connection is the fact that the Sunshine Coast system operates a commuter express service, unique in the Municipal Systems, to connect with one morning and one afternoon ferry trip. Despite the 26 kilometre distance travelled by Sunshine Coast buses between Langdale and Sechelt, the system is remarkably productive, ranking second among the Municipal Systems in terms of cost recovery ratio (41.8%), and third in terms of rides per hour at 24.5. In the Kootenays, transit service between Nelson and the Kootenay Lake ferry terminal at Balfour, a distance of 34 kilometres, operates six weekday and three Saturday round trips. Getting travellers to and from ferries by transit, rather than by automobile, makes sense from a resource allocation perspective since providing space for foot passengers on  73  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 board ferry vessels is more cost-effective than accommodating automobiles. Persons travelling with an automobile require the same space as foot passengers, plus a place for their vehicle. Unfortunately, B C Ferries has not always shown an understanding of this basic concept. As Table 9 indicates, recent fare increases on B C Ferries have increased peak weekend fares for foot passengers at a more rapid rate than for automobiles. Note especially the sharp increase for passengers on the Bowen Island route, a service that is heavily used by commuters. Table 9: Comparative increases for sample B C Ferries peak fares 1995-98 % 1998 Fare type 1995 Route fare fare increase Passenger $6.50 $9.00 38% Mainland - Vancouver Island $27.00 $32.00 19% Car $6.50 $8.00 23% Passenger Horseshoe Bay - Langdale Car $24.75 $27.75 12% Passenger $4.25 $5.75 35% Horseshoe Bay - Bowen 1st. $16.25 $18.25 12% Car Source: BC Ferries fare brochures A n obstacle to providing transit connections to ferries is B C Ferries' interest in relocating existing ferry routes to new suburban tenninals. While this can improve automobile access to terminals, it makes the task of providing efficient transit service more challenging. A case in point is the new terminal opened in June 1997 at Duke Point, well to the south of downtown Nanaimo. This terminal is used by the ferry service from Tsawwassen, which formerly used the Departure Bay terminal just north of downtown Nanaimo. The Nanaimo transit system operated service on a trial basis between Downtown Nanaimo and B C Ferries Duke Point terminal from the terminal's opening, until the spring of 1998. This required the creation of a new bus route operating on a 50-  74  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 minute cycle from downtown Nanaimo. While the service was not very productive, its 32  cancellation was viewed as premature by the staff involved since the route had not had sufficient time to build ridership (Masterton 1998). The Regional District of Nanaimo is now giving some though to reactivating the service but with a premium fare (Donnelly 1998). B C Ferries is also considering relocating the Gabriola Island ferry from its current terminal in downtown Nanaimo to the Duke Point facility. While this move would reduce ferry travel time and remove traffic from downtown Nanaimo, it would increase the travel time between Gabriola and downtown Nanaimo and require passengers to transfer.  More positively, B C Ferries has recently made improvements at a number of its terminals, including Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, that have dramatically reduced the walking distances between B C Transit bus stops, the foot passenger ticket office, and the ferry berths. B C Transit has also installed transit DayPass vending machines at the Horseshoe Bay, Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay terminals to make transit use more convenient. A n additional complication with providing attractive transit service to ferry terminals is the existence of private operators providing intercity bus service on the major routes. This is a particularly acute problem for transit riders wishing to use the Tsawwassen — Swartz Bay ferry route since pressure from Pacific Coach Lines has ensured that B C Transit does not advertise direct service from Vancouver to the Tsawwassen tenninal. Transit service on the Victoria side takes a 'suburban shuffle'  32  Including a 10 minute layover at the ferry terminal.  75  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 route rather than running directly to downtown: Ironically, the demand for transit service to the ferry terminals is so great that unadvertised overload buses, rimning more directly to downtown, are frequently operated by the Vancouver and Victoria transit systems.  7.2.2. Intercity Transportation Connections This section considers the connections available between B C Transit services and intercity transportation terminals such as bus terminals and airports. Based on an examination of transit Rider's Guides for all conventional transit systems in the province, providing intermodal connections to intercity bus and air travel services does not appear to be a B C Transit priority. Only 11 systems provide some form of information about connecting services, whether it be marking the intercity bus depot on a map or providing a telephone number (see Appendix Two for details). Not even the Victoria's Rider's Guide indicates the location of the intercity bus depot in that city, although it laudably provides detailed information on connecting via B C Ferries to the Vancouver Regional Transit System. The situation is best in Vancouver where the transit map includes contact information for other transportation services and where a SkyTrain rapid transit station is located adjacent to the city's combined intercity bus and train terminal. Transit service to a major airport is available only in Vancouver but may be worth considering elsewhere due to population increases, the increased use of air travel, and the rise of discount fare airlines, such as WestJet, that attract economy-minded travellers. In some areas entry into this market may be challenged by private carriers, although it may  76  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 be possible to make co-operative arrangements with them. For example, the private Victoria airporter bus will take passengers to and from B C Transit's McTavish Road Park-and-Ride for a fare of two dollars. This connection is not being actively promoted by the private operator given the low revenue generated (Davis 1998). The Cowichan Valley Regional Transit System, centred on the City of Duncan on Vancouver Island, provides a rare example of a fare reciprocity arrangement between local and intercity transportation services. Passengers transferring to Island Coach Lines services receive a $2.00 credit towards their fare while Island Coach Lines passengers transferring to the local service receive a two zone fare credit, equivalent to a $2.00 fare for an adult. This arrangement was simplified since the transit system operator is also the owner of Island Coach Lines. B C Transit negotiated a similar fare reciprocity agreement with Island Coach Lines for their service between Nanaimo and Parksville-Qualicum Beach but the unreliability of intercity bus service has limited its success (Masterton 1998 and Donnelly 1998).  7.3. Evaluating the Marketfor Regional Transit A serious shortcoming of the public transportation system in B.C. is the lack of a co-ordinated approach to providing intercity public transportation. Few alternatives are being provided to the private automobile for longer trips and those alternatives that do exist are priced such that they are not competitive with the car in price. In a province where there only 1.27 residents aged 15 and over for every motor vehicle, automobile  77  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 ownership is almost universal. For public transportation services to be competitive in 33  this market, they must be price competitive with the private automobile. The Canadian Automobile Association (1997) reports that the average cost to operate a compact car in B.C. is on the order of 8.5 cents per kilometre, when ownership costs are included this rise to about 41 cents per kilometre. However, since motorists tend to view ownership costs as sunk, they base their travel behaviour on the marginal (operating) cost of driving (Litman 1998). Table 10 lists the cost per kilometre for a range of intercity bus services in B.C. A l l but the last three entries are for commercial operations, with costs per kilometre ranging from 130% to 215% the operating cost per kilometre of driving a motor vehicle  Table 10: Costs per kilometre for a range of intercity bus services in B.C. Carrier Vancouver — Abbotsford Vancouver — Squamish Squamish -— Whistler Whistler -- Pemberton Victoria —- Duncan Victoria —- Nanaimo Tofino -- Ucluelet Penticton -— Kelowna Vernon — Kelowna Sechelt — Langdale Nelson — Balfour Vernon — Enderby  33  Greyhound Maverick Maverick Maverick Laidlaw Laidlaw Link Shuttle Greyhound Greyhound BC Transit BC Transit BC Transit  Distance One-way Cost/km fare (km) 12 $8.88 $0,123 44 $8.00 $0,182 56 $9.00 $0,161 35 $3.75 $0,107 62 $9.60 $0,155 112 $16.80 $0,150 42 $5.00 $0,119 60 $11.02 $0,184 47 $8.56 $0,182 26 $1.50 $0,058 34 $2.00 $0,059 42 $4.00 $0,095  The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia administered 2.499 vehicle insurance million policies in 1997. B.C. Stats reports that there were 3.179 million residents aged 15 and over in 1997 out of a provincial population of 3.933 million.  78  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 (8.50/km). Clearly these services do not represent an attractive alternative to the automobile for the 'choice' rider, especially if more than one person is travelling together. For regular commuters, intercity bus carriers are generally not a good 34  transportation option given high fares, limited schedules and questionable punctuality on long-haul routes. A simple illustration of the schedule problem is provided by Island Coach Lines' (Laidlaw) service on Vancouver Island: the first trip of the day from Duncan and Nanaimo arrives in Victoria at 9:55 a.m., hardly a good time for most commuters. In some cases private intercity carriers likely provide more service than most customers require. This is especially true for the private buses that travel from Vancouver to Victoria and Nanaimo via B C Ferries since fares on these routes must pay for the bus and driver for the whole trip, even when they are sitting idle during the ferry crossing. Passengers on these services thus pay a premium to enjoy a one-bus ride, even though they are not on the bus for about half the duration of the trip. For travellers with little baggage, this does not represent good value and brings the cost of travelling by bus much closer to that of taking a car. By providing bus service to ferry terminals, but not on to 35  the ferries, transit serves a market niche that does not require the more deluxe service  34  35  A 'choice' rider is a transit customer who chooses to ride transit but has other means of transportation available, generally an automobile. . As an illustration, the summer round trip Pacific Coach Lines fare between Vancouver and Victoria is $51 while a peak season return trip on BC Ferries for a car and driver is $78. If two people travel, the bus fare becomes $102 while the fare for the car and two occupants is $96. 79  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 provided by the private carriers, while providing a total fare that is substantially below the cost of taking a car.  36  Providing publicly subsidised transit service in major corridors, with fares and schedules designed to compete with the private automobile, is an option that should be considered. This is especially true in rapidly growing areas with many population centres, such as the lower Fraser Valley, the Okanagan Valley, and the east coast of Vancouver Island. The potential to create such a regional service in the Okanagan Valley is mentioned in the Ten-Year Plan for the Municipal Systems Program (BC Transit 1995c, Part B , 3). With the population of the Okanagan Valley at 300,343 in 1997 this is an 37  idea worthy of immediate consideration. The distance from Osoyoos to Enderby is 210 kilometres, although the central corridor between Penticton and Vernon, via Summerland and Kelowna, is only slightly more than half this length at 114 kilometres. Key challenges in implementing such a system would be the number of local governments that would have to participate since there are three regional districts and 15 municipalities in the valley, and the need to address the concerns of Greyhound.  The only precedents for such a regional service in B.C. would be the services of Pacific Stage Lines (PSL) and Vancouver Island Coach Lines (VICL) when their operations were planned and funded by the Bureau of Transit Services in the mid  36  37  A peak season, weekend round-trip between Vancouver and Victoria on BC Transit and BC Ferries cost $29 in 1998. This is the sum of the populations of the North Okanagan Regional District, the Central Okanagan Regional District, and the Okanagan Similkameen Regional District as provided by B.C Stats. 80  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 1970s. PSL provided service between Vancouver and Hope, a distance of about 150 38  kilometres, while V I C L operated the length of Vancouver Island, from Victoria to Port Hardy. In 1979 PSL was merged with Vancouver Island Coach Lines to form a new Crown corporation, Pacific Coach Lines (PCL). The privatisation of P C L in 1984 (BC Transit 1990c, 10) brought an end to the co-ordinated planning of regional bus services.  The experiences of Washington State transit systems may be illuminating in evaluating the viability of regional services for British Columbia. Link Transit in Chelan and Douglas counties operates a regional service on a 125 kilometre-long L-shaped corridor extending north and west from Wenatchee to Manson and Leavenworth. The service area population is only 87,165, well under one-third of the population in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley. Despite the apparent challenge of providing such a service, Link's performance in service hours per capita, rides per capita, and rides per hour is better than the Municipal Systems average, as shown in Table 11. Link outperforms the first tier Municipal Systems on the productivity measures but is slightly below average for service provision. Even with the assumption that the U.S. dollar is worth $1.50 Canadian, Link's cost per ride, at CAN$3.39 is below the Municipal Systems average of $3.54. Link is a fare-free service. Given the much higher population of the Okanagan Valley, it is likely that a similar service, even one charging fares, could be quite successful there.  38  PSL and Vancouver Island Coach Lines schedulesfromthis period note that," bus services are planned and administered by the Bureau of Transit Services under the authority of the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs. Routes are set in conjunction with the planning objectives of the local Municipalities and Regional Districts served." (from a June 25,1976 Vancouver Island Coach Line schedule.)  81  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Table 11: Relative performance of BC Transit Municipal Systems and Link Transit Service hours per capita Municipal Systems (1997-98) First Tier Program Average Link Transit (1996) (Appendices Three and Four)  0.82 0.68 0.76  Passengers Passengers (trips for Link) (trips for Cost per capita Link) per hour recovery 17.3 13.7 19.4  20.9 20.1 25.5  29.8% 28.4% 0%  Shorter regional routes may also be worthwhile in areas outside the three main corridors mentioned previously. For example, the 35 kilometre distance between Whistler and Pemberton is currently served by Maverick Coach Lines, but not with the frequency or schedule required to attract commuters. In Whistler's travel survey of major 39  employers, 10% to 40% of'drive alone' respondents (depending on work location), indicated that they would consider commuting on transit i f service were provide to Squamish or Pemberton (Reid Crowther et al. 1997). While providing transit service on the 56 kilometre route to Squamish might have an undesirable poaching effect on Maverick's ridership, the shorter route north to Pemberton is likely to be more feasible and has the interest of the Whistler council (Stonehouse 1998).  In some cases it may be possible to provide regional transit services using existing intercity bus carriers. This was proposed in a B C Transit study as a means of providing a low-cost transit service linking Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope and the Fraser Canyon to Chilliwack. Transit passengers would be able to pay their fares for travel within the service area using vouchers sold at 50% of their face value (BC Transit  39  Note the low rate Maverick charges for this tripfromTable 10. It appears that Maverick does this as an incentive to fill seats outside the more heavily travelled Vancouver — Whistler route segment.  82  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 1995b). Such proposals should, however, be approached with caution since there is little incentive for the intercity bus carrier to provide space and convenient schedules for short haul passengers when seats could be used more profitably for long-haul passengers. As an illustration of this point, the Greyhound service between Hope and Chilliwack that the report proposed to use as a component of the transit system has deteriorated markedly since the report was produced.  40  A hindrance to creating regional transit services for large areas in B.C., such as the Okanagan Valley, is the diffuse nature of government. The existence of 15 municipalities and three regional districts does nothing to encourage the integration of even the three existing Okanagan Valley transit systems. Clearly there is a need for a more effective approach, such as the use of Public Transportation Benefit Areas (PTBAs) as employed in Washington State. PTBAs are municipal corporations that cover the service area of the public transportation system they operate, which may include part of a county, an entire county, or more than one county. PTBAs are governed by elected officials from the county and municipal levels (Washington State Department of Transportation 1997). In B.C., PTBAs could be created with a mix of representation from regional districts and local municipalities in order to facilitate the creation of regional public transportation systems.  40  Service has declinedfromeight well distributed westbound trips a day, to seven trips that are concentrated in three distinct time periods, so functioning more like three trips than seven.  83  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  7.4.  Co-ordinating Public Transportation Services The co-ordination of planning for all public ground transportation modes is a role  that the Bureau of Transit Services once fulfilled but which is now an apparent void. Ensuring that local and regional transit systems, and intercity connections, all work as part of a network helps build a synergistic system that benefits all the parties involved, as well as the consumer. Once again Washington State provides a lead that B . C . may do well to follow. The state has developed a 20-year public transportation and intercity passenger rail plan (Washington State Department of Transportation 1996) and is in the process of defining a state-wide public transportation network. The latter work is developing a Local Mobility Index to assess the availability and quality of local transportation services, as well as the connectivity between the major nodes in each region. There is a recognition that it may be necessary to subsidise key intercity bus links in order to ensure the comprehensiveness of the state-wide network (Kirekemo 1998). A relatively simple and uncontroversial step towards the offering of a coordinated public transportation system would be to create a central information source for public transportation information. Currently the best source of information on transportation services is the provincial travel accommodation guide, which provides a list of service providers and their contact numbers, albeit in a format that is not especially user-friendly. Other jurisdictions, such as Ontario, Quebec, and Washington and 41  Oregon states, have gone a step beyond this and published maps, directories, web sites  41  Contact numbers for BC Transit services were once provided in the accommodation guide but are not included in the 1998 edition. 84  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  and/or consolidated timetables of public transportation services within their borders. The provision of this type of information allows travellers to better determine whether they need a car for their trip, or for the car-less, whether they can make the trip at all. In the absence of a province-wide strategy, efforts to improve the availability of intermodal public transportation information are being made but at a relatively slow pace. For example, the Regional District of Nanaimo has recently added contact information for BC Ferries and Island Coach Lines to the Nanaimo Rider's Guide and expanded information is planned for future editions. Nanaimo transit staff have been supplied with a reference card of contact numbers and basic schedule information for land, sea and air transportation (Donnelly 1998).  7.5. Conclusions While the presence of BC Transit systems throughout much of the province might suggest that a co-ordinated public transportation system is available, this is not generally the case as there is little co-ordination among BC Transit systems, and between BC Transit and long-distance private carriers. The provision of BC Transit services to major ferry terminals has been the chief form of integration to date. Given that the automobile provides a near seamless transportation service at a low marginal cost to the user, there is a need for public and private transportation providers to offer a competitive service in terms of ease and cost of use in those areas where demand warrants. In some areas this may best be achieved by the creation of regional public transit services while in others the demand may only be sufficient to justify a subsidy to passengers making regional trips on privately operated services. Studies of transportation demand in candidate  85  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 corridors, such as the Okanagan Valley, could be used to detennine the most appropriate service delivery option. At the provincial level, resources should be directed to creating a provincial public transportation plan and, establishing a clearing house of information on public transportation services province-wide.  86  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Chapter 8.  Conclusions and Future Research  8.1. Summary Public transit in B.C. is characterised by a number of innovative services. B C Transit systems have been Canadian leaders in providing access to conventional transit services for persons with disabilities, through the use of lift-equipped and low-floor buses and accessible rail and ferry services. B C Transit has also led Canadian systems in providing access to transit systems for cyclists through the use of bike racks on buses and bike lockers. The provincial scope of B C Transit has facilitated the replication of successful innovations from system to system. Three major examples of innovations that have spread to many systems throughout the province include the integration of school bus and transit service to reduce service duplication, the availability of discounted fares to postsecondary students to encourage ridership, and the introduction of bike racks on buses.  B C Transit's Victoria system introduced low-floor buses in 1992, becoming one of the first transit systems in North America to do so. Since that time low-floor buses have been purchased for use in Vancouver and many of the Municipal Systems, as well as by a growing number of other North American systems. The province's Municipal Systems Program represents an innovative approach to providing transit services in smaller communities. The typical system in this program is operated as a three-way partnership between B C Transit, the local municipality or municipalities and an operating company. B C Transit provides partial funding, vehicles  87  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 and management, while local government sets polices and contributes to the system through fares and property taxes. A private company operates the service in most locations, although a number of systems are operated by local government staff. This arrangement provides economies of scale in staffing and vehicle purchasing, and permits communities to draw on the expertise of B C Transit staff familiar with transit systems throughout the province. This partnership has proven to be effective in providing transit services tailored to the needs of a diverse range of communities, from industry towns such as Trail and Kitimat, to the world-class ski resort of Whistler. The program has also provided a consistent proportion of provincial funding to local systems, in contrast to the situation elsewhere in Canada where provincial funding has been cut dramatically. The Municipal Systems Program offers benefits that could be portable to other geographic areas where the heed to provide transit services in a large number of small- to mediumsized communities exists.  Drawbacks to the Municipal Systems model include the lack of local identity it provides each system, the ability of areas to 'outgrow' the centralised planning structure, and the difficulty citizens have in accessing staff who are often located hundreds of kilometres away from the systems they plan. The low level of service, relative to comparable Canadian and Washington State transit systems, provided in many Municipal Systems is a matter for concern but is not germane to this organisational structure. A key shortcoming of the public transportation system in B.C. is the lack of a coordinated public transportation network. While integration with ferry services is generally done well, there is a lack of connectivity between intercity bus and air services and local 88  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 transit services in many communities. Regional public transportation services that are able to compete with the automobile are also missing in heavily populated areas such as the Okanagan Valley, the Lower Fraser Valley, and the East Coast of Vancouver Island. This appears to be partly a result of a lack of interest and the inability of fractured local governments to create regional services. B.C. could do worse than to follow the lead of Washington State in creating a province-wide public transportation plan and in modifying local government structures to be more conducive to the creation of regional systems.  8.2.  Conclusions in Context and Future Research While the innovations covered in this study have served to benefit directly the  services to which they have been applied, in a number of cases the initiatives taken may not represent the best use of resources in improving the state of transportation overall. This concluding section of the study takes a second look at a number of innovations, and the approaches that they symbolise, and considers them in the larger context. In so doing it raises a number of questions that future researchers may wish to address.  A basic area of concern is whether the current funding and governance structure of transit in the province results in the most efficient use of resources. The large provincial funding contribution, together with the relatively centralised control structure of the Municipal Systems Program, serves to abstract much of the responsibility for transit from the local sphere and place it in the hands of the B C Transit board and staff. This leads to a lack of political oversight of transit since it is impossible for the board to have a full understanding of all the transit systems in the province. This predicament is even more extreme for the provincial government since there is no way that the minister  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 responsible for B C Transit can be fully engaged in transit issues when also having to deal with his or her main cabinet portfolio and local constituency. A n inefficient allocation of resources is one possible result of this funding and governance structure in that there is no obvious check on the provision of uneconomic services. Rather, the structure may serve to perpetuate some such services. There is also the hazard that the people involved in allocating resources will be willing to overlook questionable services in one area provided that similar services in their constituency are also not subject to scrutiny. To avoid this situation it would be invaluable for B C Transit to set minimum performance criteria for the services it funds. Such criteria could be based on the cost recovery of a service, its productivity in rides per hour, the profit or loss per passenger kilometre, or some combination of these measures that would serve to avoid any biases that the use of a single measure would introduce. For example, basing decisions on rides per hour alone would create a bias against longer distance routes. Creating criteria for service provision based on community form is likely to be fraught with difficulty given the unique characteristics of each service area but it may be possible to set a threshold level of density to support a given level of service in simple situations. A more revolutionary approach to ensuring the most effective allocation of resources would be to grant local communities greater autonomy in the use of their transit and transportation funding. Under such a system local communities could base their spending allocations on local priorities, rather than being subject to the dictates of central agencies. Such an arrangement would ideally also incorporate locally controlled funding sources, such as fuel taxes, that would help raise transportation funds from transportation sources.  90  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 From the transit perspective, this type of control and funding structure could have the downside that local governments would choose to allocate a greater proportion of locally spent transportation funds on roads rather than transit. On the other hand, without the constraints and institutional biases imposed by the Municipal Systems Program, local communities would be freer to explore potentially more cost effective service delivery options, such as the use of shared-ride taxis. The current allocation of resources can also be questioned in the context of the amount spent on services that are of relatively limited benefit in the overall transportation picture. Some examples considered in this study include the West Coast Express, and the provision of wheelchair and bicycle accessible bus services. Providing a first-class service such as the West Coast Express in a region where the bus system is often regarded as being overcrowded, unreliable and inadequate is inequitable when the cost recovery for the former service is substantially lower than that of the latter. The generous marketing budget for the West Coast Express adds insult to injury for those who have no choice but to use the bus system. Providing bicycle and wheelchair accessible may be seen as reflecting the needs of society but the cost effectiveness of these services in attracting new ridership is marginal at best. The costs of providing these novel services is hardly trivial, especially in the case of wheelchair accessible service where vehicle capital costs are substantially increased and the use of low-floor buses with reduced capacity may require more frequent service on major routes and so increase operating costs. Maintenance costs are bound to increase with the use of wheelchair lifts and the special components necessary 91  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 in low-floor buses. Despite these increased costs, there is no evidence to suggest that overall costs are reduced from a decrease in demand for custom specialised transportation as users migrate to accessible buses from custom transit services. Providing bicycle access to transit is easier to justify from a cost-benefit perspective since the costs involved are relatively low. Nevertheless, the introduction of bike rack-equipped service is unlikely to have an appreciable effect on transit ridership and may be less effective at attracting riders than reallocating resources to provide additional conventional service. A n analysis of the effectiveness of bike access to transit would have to consider how many users of the service were former automobile commuters and determine whether those users remained on transit year round, or returned to their cars in the winter when the demand for transportation infrastructure is at its greatest. On the positive side, even i f bike-and-ride programs only attract automobile commuters during the summer months, this would still lead to a reduction in air pollutant emissions during the season in which air quality is most susceptible to smog forming pollutants.  Lastly, while the creation of a more integrated public transportation system in the province, complete with regional services where appropriate, may be a worthwhile goal in selected areas of the province, care must be taken to ensure that such services are cost effective and do not result in a reduction of overall service quality through the displacement of private operators. A particular concern would be where a new public transportation service brings an increased level of service to one section of a route served by a private carrier. The hazard here is that the publicly owned service is likely to draw passengers away from the private carrier on the common section of the route, leading to a  92  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 reduction in private carrier revenues and a resulting degradation in service levels along the portion of the route served exclusively by the private carrier. This type of result has occurred on the Sunshine Coast where the B C Transit service has drawn passengers away from a private carrier on the Langdale-Sechelt portion of the route, leading to a reduction in service beyond Sechelt to Powell River. A more extreme example is the complete eradication of private sector regional bus service in the corridor served by the West Coast Express. Since the West Coast Express operates only in the peak hours and in the peak direction with a very high service quality, it has been able to "cream skim" this market and make private sector regional services providing all-day service in the same corridor financially nonviable. To avoid any decline in service quality in such cases, it is essential for planners to present to politicians the likely ramifications for private operators of any expansion of public transit services, and to work with private carriers to determine the means by which any such impacts can be minimised.  93  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Bibliography Government documents B C Transit. 1989. Proposed Implementation Strategy for Lift-equipped Buses in the Vancouver Region and Interim Improvement Options. Vancouver: B C Transit. . 1990a. Annual Report 1989-90. Vancouver: B C Transit. . 1990b. Proposed Bike-and-Ride Program for the Vancouver Regional Transit System. Vancouver: B C Transit. . 1990c. Transitions: One Hundred Years of Transit in British Columbia 18901990. Vancouver: B C Transit. . 1991. Annual Report 1990-91. Vancouver: B C Transit. . 1992. Annual Report 1991-92. Vancouver: B C Transit. . 1993. Annual Report 1992-93. Vancouver: B C Transit. . 1994a. Annual Report 1993-94. Surrey: B C Transit. . 1994b. City of Cranbrook Transit Feasibility Study. Victoria: B C Transit. . 1994c. Exterior Bicycle Racks on Buses Pilot Project. Surrey: B C Transit. . 1994d. Kamloops Transit System: BikePlan 1994: Bikes Buses and the Integrated Transportation Plan. Victoria: B C Transit; and Kamloops: City of Kamloops. . 1994e. Transit & Land Use Planning. Surrey: B C Transit. . 1995a. Annual Report 1994-95. Surrey: B C Transit. . 1995b. North Shore - Fraser Canyon Regional Transit Feasibility Study. Victoria: B C Transit and Chilliwack: Regional District of Fraser Cheam. . 1995c. Municipal Systems Program 10 Year Development Plan 1995-2006. Victoria: B C Transit. . 1996. Annual Report 1995-96. Surrey: B C Transit. . 1997a. 1998-1999 Annual Service Plan. Surrey: B C Transit. . 1997b. Annual Report 1996-97. Surrey: B C Transit. . 1997c. Municipal Systems Program Briefing Book. Victoria: B C Transit. . 1997d. TransAction 2002: Service Plan and Funding Strategy. Surrey: B C Transit. . 1997e. Transit 2010: Transit Expansion Plan for the Whistler Transit System. Victoria: B C Transit. . 1998. Vancouver's Trolley Buses: 1948-1998. Surrey: B C Transit.  94  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 British Columbia Transportation Financing Authority (BCTFA). 1997.1996/97 Annual Report. Victoria: British Columbia Transportation Financing Authority. British Columbia. 1998. Bill 36: Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Act. Bureau of Transit Services. 1973. Transit in Small and Medium Sized British Columbia Cities. Vancouver: Bureau of Transit Services. Chilliwack, District of. 1998. Future Plan Guide/Workbook: Favoured Direction. Chilliwack: District of Chilliwack. Geehan, Tom. 1995. An Evaluation of Accessible Transit Buses in Vancouver and Victoria. Surrey, B C : B C Transit, and Ottawa, Transport Canada. Greater Vancouver Regional District, Transit Department. 1982. Bicycle Transportation Through Massey Tunnel on Transit Buses. Vancouver: Greater Vancouver Regional District. Greater Vancouver Regional District. 1996. Livable Region Strategic Plan. Burnaby: Greater Vancouver Regional District. . 1997. Greater Vancouver Regional District Official Community Plan for Part of Electoral Area 'A' (UBC Area) Bylaw 840-1996. Burnaby: Greater Vancouver Regional District. Kelowna, City of. 1994. Kelowna: Planning Our Future. Kelowna, City of Kelowna. Ministry of Education. 1997.1998/99 Funding Allocation System: Function 7 Transportation and Housing. Victoria: British Columbia Ministry of Education. Ministry of Transportation and Highways. 1992. Interim Cycling Policy. Victoria: British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways. Nanaimo, Regional District of. 1998. Transit Business Plan for the Regional District of Nanaimo. Nanaimo: Regional District of Nanaimo. Toronto Transit Commission. 1997. Report to the Commission dated December 16, 1997, entitled Response to Commission Enquiry Regarding Theoretical Dwell Time and Loading Capacity on Lift-Equipped and Low-Floor Buses. Toronto: Toronto Transit Commission. . 1998. Report to the Commission meeting of May 20, 1998, entitled Low-Floor Bus Update. Toronto: Toronto Transit Commission. Washington State Department of Transportation, Public Transportation and Rail Division. 1997.1996 Summary: Public Transportation Systems in Washington State. Olympia: Washington State Department of Transportation.  Secondary Sources Actran Consultants. 1997. Near-Term TDM Initiatives in the Westbank-Kelowna Corridor. Victoria: B C Transportation Financing Authority.  95  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 Booz • Allen & Hamilton. 1995. Transit Cooperative Research Program Report 2: Applicability of Low-Floor Light Rail Vehicles in North America. Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board. Canadian Automobile Association. 1997. Driving Costs 1996 -1997. Ottawa: Canadian Automobile Association. Curtis, Malcolm. 1997. Drivers don't want bike racks. The Victoria Times-Colonist. Delcan Corporation. 1994. Low-Floor Bus Design Issues and Guidelines Study. Toronto: Canadian Urban Transit Association. Doolittle, John T. and Ellen Kret Porter. 1994. Transit Cooperative Research Program Synthesis of Transit Practice 4: Integration of Bicycles and Transit. Washington: National Academy Press. Litman, Todd. 1998. Driving Out Subsidies. Alternatives Journal. 24:1 (Winter 1998): 36-42. Lowe, Marcia D. 1989. The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet. Washington D.C.: WorldWatch Institute. McClintock, Hugh, ed. 1992. The Bicycle and City Traffic. London: Belhaven. Munro, Harold. 1998. Tech U to be built in Whalley. The Vancouver Sun. July 16,1998, Al. N . D . Lea. 1997. Draft Report: Towards a Transportation Strategy. Vancouver: University of British Columbia. O'Sullivan, S. and J. Morall. 1996. Walking distances to and from Light-rail Transit Stations. Transportation Research Record 1538. pp. 19-26. Parkinson, Tom and Ian Fisher. 1996. Transit Cooperative Research Program Report 13: Rail Transit Capacity. Washington: National Academy Press. Pendakur, V . Setty, Madhav G. Badami, and Yuh-Ren Lin. 1995. Nonmotorized Transportation Equivalents in Urban Transport Planning. Transportation Research Record 1487. pp. 49-55. Pucher, John. 1998. Back on Track: Eight steps to rejuvenate public transport in Canada. Alternatives Journal. 24:1 (Winter 1998) : 26-33. Reid Crowther & Partners Ltd. in conjunction with Ecosign - Mountain Resort Planners Ltd. 1997. Whistler Comprehensive Transportation Strategy: Employee Surveys. Whistler: Resort Municipality of Whistler. Replogle, Michael A . 1996. Bicycle Access to Public Transportation: Learning from Abroad. Transportation Research Record 1396. 75-80. Stonehouse, Andy. New buses to boost Whistler Transit system. Pique Newsmagazine, 17 July 1998, 13.  96  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98 University of Washington. 1997.1996-1997 U-PASS Annual Report. Seattle: University of Washington. Available from http://www.  Interviews and Communications Boyd, Don; Transportation Planner, B C Transit Municipal Systems Program. Interview by author 25 June 1998. Campbell, Laurens; Traffic Technician, City of Kelowna. Interview by author 13 July 1998 and other communications. Davis, Mike; Victoria Plarming and Scheduling Manager, B C Transit. Interview by author 17 July 1998 and other communications. Docherty, Mike; Manager, Terrace Transit System. Interview by author 18 August 1998. Donnelly, Mike; Manager of Transportation Services, Regional District of Nanaimo. Interview by author 18 August 1998. Forman, Sandy; Senior Transportation Planner, B C Transit Municipal Systems Program. Interview by author 6 July 1998. Ho, Cheeying; Executive Director, Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST). Interview by author 13 August 1998. Kelly, Brian; General Manager, Kamloops Transit System. Interview by author 7 August 1998. Kirkemo, Gordon; Public Transportation and Rail Division, Washington State Department of Transportation. Interview by author 8 July 1998. Mannheim, Linda; Deputy Municipal Clerk and Transit Co-ordinatior, Resort Municipality of Whistler. Interviews by author 1 April 1998 and 17 August 1998. Masterton, Graeme; Transit Planner, B C Transit Municipal Systems Program. Interview by author 17 July 1998 and other communications. Rodman, Valerie; Project Oversight, Washington State Department of Transportation. Interview by author 8 July 1998. Ryan, Pat; Planner, Strategic Planning Department, B C Transit. Interview by author 10 July 1998 and other communications. Segal, Steve; Planner, B C Transit Municipal Systems Program. Interview by author 7 July 1998. Wozencroft, David; Marketing Manager, West Coast Express. 1998. Interview with the author 15 July 1998. Wuschke, Ken; Board Member, Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition. Communication with the author 13 August 1998.  97  Transit Innovations in British Columbia: 1988-98  Management  Operations  Vehicles  Management and supervision of system operation and payroll, including records and reports of operation Provision of trained, competent, uniformed and licensed drivers Provision of passenger and public relations for staff Fare collection and security Farebox collection, security and reporting Accountinq controls, reports and analysis Audits, ridership counts and performance trends Physical inspection of on-street facilities Compliance with service specification Conduct performance checks Maintain a transit information telephone number Maintain a log of complaints, suggestions and recommendations Maintain a lost and found Install bus stop signs and make bus stop improvements Notify operating company of street closures or traffic disruptions Install and replace bus advertising material Make necessary traffic control by-laws Provide vehicles, destination blinds and fareboxes Maintain and service vehicles Conduct maintenance inspections Insure vehicles  Finances  Fix and amend fares Negotiate Annual Operating Agreement budget Approve Annual Operating Agreement budget  Marketing  Prepare, provide and control merchandising plans Provide bus stop signs, public timetables, timetable posters Maintain a public profile and seek new riders  Service Planning  Comprehensive planning  • • • • • • • • • • • • •  • •  • • • • • • • • • • • •  Prepare plans with routes, schedule stops and budget Review, amend or approve plans Amend the Annual Operating Agreement Implement service Set City transit objectives Prepare service plans, vehicle and capital improvement plans, merchandising plans, merchandising plans, and budget forecasting and analysis Approve plans  Operator  Activity  BC Transit  Function  Municipality  Appendix One: Responsibilities for Municipal Systems Partners  • •  • • •  • • • • • •  • •  • •  • •  •  •  * •  •  (Source: BC Transit 1997c, 17) 98  oo o o > n<n cs <r>  t-; v>  CN  O  <n o  wo O CN o  CN  O  m oo uo  o  CN  CN  ©  CN  ©  6r5  — '  —i  •5  S  CN  c o  o o Z Z  1>  IO r ~  o  z >-  r ~  r ~  Z  CO  o o Z Z  o o  z z  >H  O  O  z£ z z z z  £  Z  8 ^  z£  >-  r ~  z >-  1Z  I I11 CL,  CL-  OH  OH  a s 5>  o o o o o o o o o o Z Z Z Z  o o o o Z Z Z Z  c .2  z zz zz z  3  3  o o © o©  © vO  \0  o o Z Z  3  3  3 O  CN CN  o o o o o o Z Z Z Z  r«  z z  00  —  —  >-  o o o o Z Z  z z  z  © © © o ro cn ro ro ro  o o o Z Z Z  o o Z Z Z  >H  o o o o Z Z  z z  o ©o ©  VO rom ro  o o o o Z Z Z Z  r ~  r"|r»  CN  S3 -V  •a  •a >  g  CD  I, O  c .5£ O S3 sj  .s £ § is ci H U r*. ^ z  I?  a e o  2  o  '5b 04 c o c  >  CD  a o  ii SI  t.  8.  5: GO  1  •3 .S •5  a Vi  8 •a V> Vi V ( N  O O  I  o v,  00  IN  O  O  Z Z  C  s o  2^  z£  o o  zz  zz£>:  o o o o O O 2 Z 2 Z 2  z  3  Ml  oo o o © ©  III  to cd o o o o o o 2 Z Z Z  z  z  —< —c  o v>  S3 -V  a  « ^ t v, >- c « 3 a op  S  O  •B  J 3  H o  C3  T3  53 o c<oo o  is >  „  <U  o  O Z C  N  n  *  is ^ ^ O Vi o  100  VO  -a-'  CN  cn  CN CN  ^- vo so *n  **! vo  —  M  CA  M t>  »n C N  CN  O  \0  0-  —I  CN  ^  CN  S  VO ^ Ov  c  NO  vO  ^1  vd cK c CN CS  O  CN  as -<-» - o o o " o,  cc  cn — c- r»  • c> c » «S in VO — CN  TT  r~ — i m vo  vo  o  O  Os|  XO  -  «^  oo" CN  00  H  O  TT  — CN m  OO o CN <l CNoo  o"  «  *n <*\  ^  m  CN CN  OS  oo  0\  O  VO  >N  ON  r-  oo  ••a  CN  ^  OS  CS  CJ\ CN  o  S  GO  o\ in vo ^ cn CN  IT) OS  O  so n  p  I  ON ^ CN  1/1 O \£J <N —  ro in © ^  vp rS  CN  m  *Ti  O vo •cf  NO  OO OO O S ^O  _"o| I  *o — oo a \ SO so CN ~* 0 0 CN OO rO OS <3\ ^ °i >n OS m os oo *-( vo oo oo fc^ &9 6ft <  00  VO VO  oo vo>  Ov  J*  o  5  CN cn  o o  in (S in  V i Ov  r~ —*  r- x so  CM =  (S f i  vO  CN —  cn C N  ao  TJ-^ m " oo OS CS —' m (N ^  &  m oo so vp »n C N •n r*, O v^ m so oo 00 r f OS o M  OS CN  sq^ in  ftQ  VO ^  O  so CN OO  VO  °\ O so O  ve  9  CN ^ 6ft 6ft  &  si  6ft  C3 00  "C3 o c > o  CN — CN  00  r-  — 0\ m oo oo m rs 0 0 vo vj, oo O N vo vo"  T-H  m  0\  0\  —  H 00" C N  a a a  VO  n S  Ov  O SO C\ N <D cn  o — in 0\  cos ?\ r—~i-" —^o"  IT)  (N  SO *0 VO ^  O  «/1  ON VC^ O O N Tt" VO" " O OS  CN  ~-  N  e2§ in vo _ VO vo_ —" vo" m — oo m  o o o o e o o o  o o o o o o  o o  " 1 "J VO vo 0\ in" Vi — r-  O 0 VO  CN  Ov  O o o o, —^  N  i> o" ~ CN CN  ••  H  «n cs  -  VO  so"  2  CN  m  ^  "Z" VO o o  >- 5  2  3' > a>i ps et 1  cd O C Z • -  O  o "c 3 >t %  —  h  O  UU  => ed >  ts 3 o n u _c a IS g c3 C/5  >  u J5 CJ  Inhn  ca  h  oo CN OO so IT)  ^ t> n  Regiom  u  05  t  (S CN OO Tf O CN V© CN CN  —  —  if)  c/3 =  ft  oo vo vo o  —" r-" CN  Q\ so *^ CN w> CN  ©  a 55 « cds c o H Q  E >  P3  •i'S  oil  101 OH  CU  N  ro r r ro 6ft W —H  CN  ^  r n oo os f i r> (S «9 W W  in  ^ rn ^vi ^  Ill SO ON  so  —  —i <N  p CN r o  - H — rr —os r-»" c s o ©  O  r-  (S  H  w  -  o r- o —^ o r o  SO OO  — o  o o  ro  rf ro m rf - H ro" © " r o f-H r o cN  s© co —1  www  SO  CN  V» oo fN  SO  SO  I©"  w  o —  n ^ ^  Os r o oo  so so" vi"oo" v> OS — rr os^ r— ON  wi« ' e t»- r - o - r~- C N U$ ro" r r ' SO  CN — oo  v.  • q  Os oo SO  in os  vf —" ww  O  ^-  CN  ~H  vO ro so" so SO  os oo r o . r o so s o oo «n «S co "O © rT OO V . co os  ?  2  n  r- rf  so  —  M  OO h  S  »-H  co  r  m  - oo  CN  VI o" so SO  IN  OO 00 rf' CN  *H  OS OS - H O  i-5  W  A  Zm  ^o o^ OO OS O O  n  3  s  so  a o r i —" o ro oo «n  o  OO" OS sO f l *-**-< CN rO SO  NP  0 - o~oo r r  CN Os  _  -  f  — os  tfl t- OO ^ c-" so" C N oo r£ rr*f ro"  so  ro  N»  x  -H H  o N »r w Cw  - H  x  so C N (*> oo"  n  ^- o so oo o rr so" CN rt t-; so OS CN so so  rr so so"  in v. rf rj-  r o rjOO — i O rr" s© ^ . V5 W W OS »H CM  o"  IT) CN CN OS CN t> r o r o in — so O CN r o rO OO © os_ o" r-" r f so" os" i—i r o t*l OO OS r - ro —  r- so  o\  CN  ir.  oo  OS  so so 1/T Os" so"  r> r ooo osoo  oo O SO co  o in" o o oo Os in I-H  OS Os  &o  oo  so cn  VP  O O  r~~  r r CN CN f-H OO OS  rf  V?  r— r o r o r o <n O \Q —« r o r~~ — i r o Os Os V) oo CN Vl V) so" r- t-" C N oo N r- fi rr cN ro^ CN r f Os ro" ro  SO ^ro o" Os O  r o Os  ©" r-" sO  p  vi so  r- v.  ro OO  vi  CN  c * © CN V) v> oo  p  VI 00 od  O  vp  5  »o  00 r o O CN 6ft 6ft  q (S ro sd W W  ro © ©  co ros rN m O0 Os" so" n  «5-  <n rT © o ~ OS  R  OO CN rr" rT - H ro  SO CM  ro" r o CN V)  00 o *H SO Vl oo m r r  <*J  © v. i> o w SO e*i r o — r-- r o R  15  o  o  rn ro —  O  ro  so —<  rO^ CN^ as" oo"  i oo" —*" CN OO tr  v. so  © o o — SO O 00 "n r--  O  O O SO — r f so" CN r r  vj  ©  V) V) co co so oo CO rf rf CN  —  o  e oH  •a  2 2  .2 S  2  11 H  . S E S  HfflU  2 e1 ^ oo  3  aC « o  h  £  5 H  s  


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items