B.C. Transit is creating a 25-year transit plan for the Sea to Sky Corridor, complete with a look at regional service to Vancouver.
On Monday (Feb. 3), the provincial Crown agency’s bigwigs attended the District of Squamish’s Select Committee on Transportation Issues to unveil the process behind the Sea to Sky Regional Transit Future Plan. Once completed, the document will help shape sustainable communities and aid the municipality’s land-use decisions, senior transit planner Matthew Boyd said. But it’s not an easy task, he admitted.
“Looking 25 years ahead is a very, very difficult thing to do,” Boyd said.
To assist the project, B.C. Transit is enlisting stakeholder groups and will stage open houses in Squamish in late March. The study is broken into four areas — Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and regional — with an examination of linking Vancouver up to Pemberton in the regional component.
“Regional service to the Sea to Sky is perhaps the most crucial part,” Boyd said.
Connectivity to Vancouver is highlighted by Squamish riders, said Johann van Schaik, regional transit manager for the south coast. While such a service sounds great, whatever the plan holds has to also be financially viable, he noted.
“We are going to look to alternative sources of funding,” van Schaik said, noting regional service is “terribly expensive.”
Advertising on and in buses only accounts for 1 to 2 per cent of B.C. Transit’s revenue, he noted. Profits from ads on bus stops goes toward the municipality in which they’re located, van Schaik added. B.C. Transit is looking to beef up its website’s advertising potential.
B.C. Transit officials were armed with a “good news story” regarding services it expanded last year. Since the agency implemented late night and holiday runs and provided a new Tantalus route, ridership increased 3.9 per cent when compared to 2012. B.C. Transit targets 5 per cent ridership province-wide.
“That is a significant start of an increase in ridership,” van Schaik said, noting operating costs per rider have fallen.
B.C. Transit officials aim to have the plan completed by 2015. The Crown agency intends to revisit the plan every five years.