While B.C. Transit shifts its 25-year vision for Sea to Sky Corridor transportation into first gear, local officials say plans are useless unless an alternative funding model is examined.
Last month, representatives of the Crown corporation met with officials from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) and corridor governments to kick off a 12- to 18-month study on the future of the region’s transit. With the help of key stakeholders and public input, B.C. Transit wants to outline transit that supports economic, social and environmental sustainability goals.
That sounds great, but additional revenue is needed to make plans viable, SLRD chair Patricia Heintzman said. SLRD members said they would back the process as long as B.C. Transit examines alternative funding systems, including the possibility of dipping into the provincial government’s fuel tax.
“The current model for taxation isn’t adequate,” Heintzman said. “We need to find a way of funding [transit] through existing taxes.”
B.C. Transit’s legislated funding formula is a three-way agreement between the local government, contracted transit operating companies and B.C. Transit. The province funds 46.69 per cent of conventional transit systems, with municipalities pitching in 53.31 per cent of the cash, made up of property taxes and transit revenue.
B.C. Transit anticipates holding open houses in March and September 2014. The study will guide and prioritize future investments in the transit system, set ridership targets, identify key transit corridors and note needed service hours and infrastructure.
Cost of the study will be born by B.C. Transit. The Crown corporation will set up a steering committee comprised of First Nations and local government representatives.