Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Frustrated municipal politicians want more say on B.C. Transit

with 9 comments

When I first saw the headline in the Times Colonist, I wondered why municipal politicians in the rest of BC felt that it was any more likely that they would get any more input than their colleagues in Greater Vancouver (I think I am going to follow the example of  Ken Cameron and refuse to call it “Metro”).

They are, of course, quite right. The way the Province behaves with respect to transit and the municipalities is disgraceful. And it always has been. Though politicians both left and right pay lip service to the idea of “partnership” once they get their hands on the levers of power, they do not like to share them with anyone. The story mentions one reason that BC Transit is  taking more money is because it has “to pay for 100 new buses it bought for the 2010 Winter Olympics”. Those were of course bought for Whistler – and included the ridiculously expensive hydrogen fuel cell buses. The nonsense of the “hydrogen highway” that Campbell liked to boast about with Arnie was made manifest when it transpired that the “zero emission” fuel was being trucked here – from Quebec!

Whistler fuel cell bus - photo by Chris Cassidy on flickr

Whistler fuel cell bus - photo by Chris Cassidy on flickr

Of course property taxes should not be plundered to pay for this kind of grandstanding. Maybe Christy Clark can clean up some of this since she was out of the way when it happened – and perhaps get some credit for her actions. Certainly it does not look as though the new transportation Minister has mastered his brief yet.

Lekstrom said he was unaware of the request for the meeting and could not comment.

That of course is code. It is probably too early in the term for anyone to know what they are supposed to be doing on every issue and I think the municipal politicians are being very strategic in getting their point of view into the press now.

I am cynical, of course, but I would be very surprised if much different happens. But then I was also surprised that parking charges in provincial parks were ended this week.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Posted in transit

9 Responses

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  1. Great post, although the 100 buses they mention doesn’t include the hydrogen fueled ones. Just the diesel “NovaBuses” that have swarmed Victoria streets.

    Chris Cassidy

    May 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm

  2. Well Chris, now I am really confused. There were no winter Olympics in Victoria – and other places are complaining about rising costs but no increase in service hours. In Vancouver we saw a reduction in service post Olympics, and a sizeable reduction in the fleet too. We are also paying for the faulty toll revenue projections on the Golden Ears – and seeing significant service adjustments to concentrate service onto higher ridership routes/times.

    Stephen Rees

    May 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm

  3. Sorry, didn’t make it clear in my last post. The 100 buses they mention were bought for Whistler, they ran up there during the Olympics. Of course, after the party they weren’t needed so they were sent elsewhere. It’s my understanding they were pretty much forced upon the small cimmunities, mainly Nelson and Penticton. Now they have newer buses which consume more fuel, and have higher lease payments.

    I’ll send you a link to a few news articles from Nelson complaining about the new Novas tomorrow.

    Chris Cassidy

    May 5, 2011 at 12:27 am

  4. Here’s a link to the article about the Novas in Nelson.

    and these are the buses in question


    Nearly all of the 2009 Novas started in Whistler, and have slowly been shifted

    Chris Cassidy

    May 5, 2011 at 1:50 am

  5. […] architectural award [Globe and Mail] The mystery of the disappearing salmon [Globe and Mail] Frustrated municipal politicians want more say on B.C. Transit [Stephen Rees's Blog] Ransack the Toolbox [The Dependent […]

    re:place Magazine

    May 5, 2011 at 7:10 am

  6. Unfortunately B.C. is, politically, still the Wild West. Unlike in many other countries how many municipal and politicians have a user knowledge of transit?

    In Europe (where, by the way, they are only too happy to use made-in-B.C. wood pellets,a source of heating used in automated stoves, something that most people in B.C. have never heard about, even thought the technology goes back to many years) MAYORS are responsible for transit, either totally, as London’s mayor, or as part of the transit board or commission etc.
    Their choices and decisions are not overturned by a higher political authority.

    from “Transport for London”
    “What does the Mayor of London do?
    The Mayor is responsible for producing an integrated transport strategy for London and for consulting the London Assembly, Transport for London (TfL), boroughs and others on the strategy (latest version was on 2010) The Mayor has wide powers of direction over TfL, sets TfL’s budget (subject to the approval of the Assembly – see below) and appoints its board. The Mayor also sets the structure and level of public transport fares in London (including ‘black cabs’ but not National Rail or minicab fares) The Mayor has a say in how the commuter railways are run, has powers to fund new transport services, and to invest in new transport systems.

    What does the London Assembly do?
    The London Assembly is consulted on the Mayor’s transport strategy, and inspects and approves the Mayor’s budget. It is able to summon the Mayor and senior staff to account for TfL’s performance. London TravelWatch, a body appointed by and reporting to the Assembly, deals with complaints about transport in London.”

    Red frog

    May 5, 2011 at 10:54 am

  7. Red

    I worked for both the GLC and the UK Department of Transport. Trust me, there was plenty of disagreement between the Leader of the GLC (he wasn’t called the Mayor in those days) and the Minister of Transport and PM. And I don’t believe that has ceased since the creation of the position of the Mayor either. Public transport provision is very expensive and requires national government support, which is common everywhere EXCEPT Canada. But it is always controversial simply because the sums involved seem very large to those required to make the decisions. They also have a hard time listening to objective advice and are not very numerate, in my experience.

    Stephen Rees

    May 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

  8. Stephen
    You are right of course (I read volumes about the fights between the previous mayor of Bordeaux and other politicians..) but the point is that Europeans do have (even the national/ regional politicians, business people etc.) a hand-on experience of transit that our politicians and decisions makers don’t have.

    Also over there a municipal politician is often also a national one or know many of them well. All the mayors that Bordeaux had since I was born (we likely are from the same generation) were also a MP in the national assembly for many years and were minister or prime minister for a while…

    Red frog

    May 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm

  9. Hi,

    From the Middle of the Mess.

    On the last day of September we lose our 4 trip per day Transit connection between Whistler and Squamish. When Whistler goes to its Winter Schedule this year it will only be a shadow of what it was in previous years.

    BC Transit met with Squamish Council in a 4 hour meeting which mainly showed that they had new presentation software, to create very pretty graphs and charts. They had no information, no suggestions and no plans. Near the end of the meeting BCT officials remembered that they would have to give the contractor 3 months notice if the Squamish Commuter was to end. Since BCT had no plan to offer and the deadline had just jumped from 3 months to 3 days Squamish did they only thing they could. They gave notice.

    You can visit us on Face Book for links to Articles, Editorials and Letters about Transit in the Sea to Sky Corridor.


    Murray Gamble
    Squamish, BC

    Murray Gamble

    August 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm

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