A vision, a series of goals and an action list have been developed for Powell River’s transit system.
At the committee of the whole meeting on January 14, city sustainability planner Ana Lukyanova presented a report on the system.
She said committee of the whole received a presentation from BC Transit representatives on November 19, 2019.
“There was a presentation on our transit system and a really good discussion and a lot of questions to BC Transit,” said Lukyanova. “What would really be helpful to them is to have a list of goals we have for our transit so they can have it clearly articulated to them. They can then use that to do ongoing planning work they do with us.”
Lukyanova said at that meeting, councillors referred the matter of creating those goals to the climate change mitigation and adaptation committee (CCMAC). She said the committee has met and came up with a Powell River transit system vision and goals document. A lot of the formative work was done using goals the city already has in the integrated community sustainability plan, the official community plan and other documents, she added.
“It was just a matter of pulling it together in one document so we can communicate it to BC Transit,” said Lukyanova.
The vision statement is for an efficient, convenient, reliable, accessible and affordable public transit system that is well-used by the community, contributing to a sustainable, vibrant and equitable quality of life in Powell River.
Lukyanova said the committee came up with seven goals to support the vision. The first, growing ridership, is tied to the official community plan, with the second, to be direct and connect the community’s key centres. The CCMAC felt the current system requires transfers, which adds to the time and takes much longer than a car trip. There is an opportunity to look at more direct routes, said Lukyanova.
The third goal is working effectively with other modes of transportation. Lukyanova said that was a comment about city routes not always aligning with regional buses. Being efficient and cost effective involves getting more people on the buses, which reduces costs and emissions per ride, which is improving efficiencies, she added.
Being safe and accessible to all acknowledges the aging population and makes sure people who cannot ride conventional buses can make use of the handyDART service.
The sixth point is about reducing community greenhouse gas emissions. This would involve shifting automobile trips to transit and other forms of active transportation, reducing emissions per trip through increased ridership, plus incorporating zero-emission buses.
The final goal is being agile, technologically innovative and customer focused. Lukyanova said there was a feeling that a better job can be done integrating schedules and services such as Google Maps so people can look up their destination and see exactly when the next bus is leaving.
The document also lists 12 actions to support those goals. One explores free transit; the main concern of BC Transit is the city fully understanding revenue implications. Capacity on some routes was also a concern.
Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said there are efficiencies that can be affected and good ideas in the list of actions and goals.
“I fully support working with BC Transit to try and establish the goals and work on a better system,” she added.
Councillor George Doubt said the CCMAC has done a good job putting together a list of things leading to actions, but it stops a little short of the vision and actions he wants to see. He said wants to see the vision extend to a regional transit system, including the Sunshine Coast, and transit between Lund and North Vancouver, which he thinks is possible.
Lukyanova said when the committee had its discussions, there was a definite focus on the city runs.
“We didn’t reach beyond the city, and we could have,” said Lukyanova.
Doubt said he wants to have a little more clear language, so it can be expressed in the report that it can be a valuable goal to have a regional transit authority to take people from Lund to the Lower Mainland at some point.
“If we don’t see it as a goal, we’ll never get there,” said Doubt.
Mayor Dave Formosa said that is actually happening. There is a paratransit bus concept in play now that would take riders from Powell River through to Horseshoe Bay, he added.
“One bus, financed by all of us, would take the concept into play,” said Formosa, adding that when the city talked to BC Transit at the Union of BC Municipalities convention, they were all over helping get this done. Formosa said it is very doable.
Lukyanova’s report has been referred to city council, for staff to work with BC Transit on the implementation of the Powell River transit system vision and goals prepared by the CCMAC.