We keep talking about this as an important issue, but we rarely address the real underlying interests people have in this issue of transportation and transit in this region.
No one has spent much time addressing what the interests of the different parts of the public are in this region. I live in the City of Victoria and my interests in transit planning are first a low cost to me as a homeowner and second no loss of service in my neighbourhood. I have no personal interests in the issues of the Colwood Crawl as it has no bearing on my life.
Someone that lives on the Westshore and commutes downtown has an interest in having a decent trip to and from work, not too long and not too frustrating. Their interests on the cost side are different, they may not have a primary interest in low costs to the taxpayer.
A UVic student has an interest in being able to get to and from UVic via transit, many of them have trouble getting on buses at peak times because of the scale of use.
A business owner on Douglas has an interest in no negative impact on their ability to do business.
We have multiple competing interests and need to find a solution that can meet the interests of all manner of different people. When we address interests and not positions, we can find solutions that work.
Advocacy for rail of any sort is not an interest, but a position. Can all the benefits of rail be met with other solutions? Yes. Does rail meet the majority of interests in transit in this region? No.
We have not addressed the interests to date and this means we will have problems with whatever solution is chosen. If five years ago BC Transit had started along a process that sought out the different interests and then found solutions that met all the different interests, we would be much closer to a solution than we are now.
When I look at the choices available, the only option that makes sense to me is bus rapid transit. The cost is lower, it is more flexible, it has a much lower probability of impacting local service, and it can be rolled out to the number destination needing rapid transit much sooner - UVic.