Tensions between municipalites and BC Transit have come to a head and hit a turning point, says Regional District of Nanaimo chair Joe Stanhope.
In a joint press conference with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom last Thursday, Stanhope said an independent review of BC Transit will do much to clear the air — and has already begun to do so.
The review, Lekstrom said, was sparked by complaints by Stanhope and other municipal leaders who were upset by decisions they said were being made by BC Transit without adequate consultation with the municipalities they would impact.
“BC Transit made decisions that impacted us, such as taking away all our Nova buses,” Stanhope said. “We had this huge ceremony to herald getting a dozen new fuel-efficient Nova buses and we loved them. Then all of a sudden we got word from BC Transit that they wanted their buses back.”
As well, Stanhope said, the RDN was informed that management fees for the system had been increased by 100 per cent after the RDN had done its budget.
Lekstrom said the review will be conducted by three experts in the field, Chris Trumpy, Catherine Holt and John King. Trumpy will chair the panel.
Stanhope said communications between the RDN and BC Transit have already improved and he sees nothing but positives coming out of the review.
“It’s all about improving communication,” he said. “The minister listened to our concerns and this is what we asked for. We need communication so decisions aren’t made in Victoria by BC Transit without discussions with local governments. I’m hopeful the independent review will give local government and BC Transit new ideas and tools that will improve the way we can work together, particularly in the areas of rising costs, funding, governance and communications.”
“BC Transit provides good transit service, although there is always room to improve,” he said. “I have selected a knowledgeable and experienced panel that will examine the issues and provide recommendations. I am looking forward to receiving their report by the end of August. I am optimistic the independent BC Transit Review will help make transit even better.”