UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of a transit supply program : the case of British Columbia Chan, Eugenia Kam-Yung


This thesis examines and evaluates the supply of transit service to small cities in the Province of British Columbia. All levels of supply are investigated: the government funding program, the Public Marketing Agency which implements the program, the organization of services and actual services supplied. Provincial Government involvement in the provision of transit in small cities was predicated primarily on providing a minimum level of mobility for those people who are without access to an automobile and secondarily to provide an alternative to auto use for choice riders and to provide an alterantive to expenditure on private transportation. The transit industry in small cities in B. C. was suffering from increasing costs, decreasing ridership, reduced and stagnant service levels which did not meet minimum national service guidelines, a shortage of managerial personnel familiar with planning, managing and operating transit systems and the low productivities of the systems. After five years of government involvement thirty percent of the people in small cities in B. C. were provided with transit services that were up to the nationally accepted guidelines and the Province was subsidizing half of the operating losses and 100% of capital for vehicles. The Provincial share of the deficit increased from $103,000 in 1972 to $1,336,300 in 1977 while the ridership has also increased from 854,400 to 5,595,700 during the same period. This study was undertaken for the following reasons: (i) to document costs and benefits in order to determine whether the program was worthwhile; (ii) to examine the performance of the Public Marketing Agency which implemented the supply program; and (iii) to search for possible remedies for stabilizing transit deficits. The supply of transit services in small cities was documented which included funding, planning, marketing and some operating aspects df the program. An important feature of the supply program is also documented. This is the Public Marketing Agency which embodies the concept of separation of functions and responsibilities. Marketing and planning decisions are assigned to the Agency while actual operations of the service is executed by a privately or publicly owned carrier, under a contractual arrangement. This concept was adopted bacause it was thought to be an effective means of controlling the transit subsidy program. The levels of service supplied and the financial characteristics of the systems are documented. The Provincial Government through the Public Marketing Agency ('p.m.a.') in conjunction with the local municipalities plans and markets transit in small cities. The two levels of government work together so that local and regional goals can be considered in the planning and running of systems. In order to determine how well the supply program was performing the demand for transit for several small cities in B. C. was also examined. The characteristics of transit users, their demands and utilization of the service and the characteristics of the community within which the service operates are documented. On board passenger surveys and household attitudinal surveys were undertaken after service improvements to obtain this information. Finally, an evaluation of the transit program is presented. This involves measuring how well goals have been achieved and determining the economic efficiency of the program and the effectiveness of the funding arrangement. The effectiveness of the 'p.m.a.' in achieving what it was set up to accomplished is discussed. Several social and economic criteria were adopted to evaluate the program and the funding arrangement. In general, it can be said that the transit supply program has been successful at increasing the mobility of small city residents and reducing their dependence on the auto. However, the approach to distribution of resources among cities raises questions about equity. The lack of measureable objectives, the proper criteria for allocating funds, a program to measure performance and a uniform reporting system are found to be responsible for the inequitable funding arrangement. The pitfalls of the 'p.m.a.' approach are presented. It was found that it had little control over costs because of lack of competition on the behalf of private operators and due to the unwillingness of the 'p.m.a.' to audit operators.

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