Thursday, October 04, 2012

Time for a Vancouver Island Transportation Authority?

Transportation is very important on Vancouver Island because we are the largest ferry dependent population in North America.  We have a unique set of issues and constraints when it comes to our transportation because of the geography of this Island is not very friendly to moving around.

At the moment we have a plethora of governments and agencies that are responsible for some aspect of transportation and none of them are coordinated with each other.    I think we would benefit from the creation of a Vancouver Island Transportation governed by local governments but with guaranteed funding from the federal and provincial governments.   Any local authority should also control all of the gas tax money raised on the island.

Who all is involved with transportation on the island?

  • Ministry of Transportation deals with the highways
  • We have municipalities responsible for many roads, but in unorganized areas this is handled by the Ministry of Transportation
  • Resource roads, mainly forest service roads, are built by industry but are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.  These roads matter for the public because there communities on the island that only have access over forest service roads.
  • BC Ferries provides most of the ferry services by we have Black Ball offering the Coho, Washington State Ferries offering a ferry between Anacortes and Sidney for part of the year.   We also have private ferry services on the westcoast of the island providing service to remote communities such as the Uchuck.
  • ICF owns the E&N line but it is operated by the Southern Railway of BC
  • We have a number of airports on the island that provide regular passenger service but are not under the control of the local people in any proper manner.   We have YWH - Victoria Harbour, YYJ - Victoria International, YQQ - Comox,  YCD - Nanaimo, YBL - Campbell River Municipal Airport, YAZ - Tofino, YZT - Port Hardy

We have eight transit systems that are all differently owned and operated.
  • Campbell River Transit System is jointly funded by the City of Campbell River and BC Transit and operated by Watson and Ash Transportation Company (as far north as north Campbell River and as far south as Oyster River)
  • Comox Valley Transit System is cost shared between the CVRD and BC Transit and operated by Watson and Ash Transportation Ltd.  (goes as far north as Oyster River and south as Fanny Bay)
  • Cowichan Valley Regional Transit System is cost shared between the CVRD and BC Transit and operated by First Canada ULC.  HandyDart is operated by Volunteer Cowichan and finally the Honeymoon Bay and Youbou connectors are operated by the Cowichan Lake Community Services Society (as far north as Chemainus and as far south as Victoria)
  • Mount Waddington Regional Transit - funded by RDMW, three First Nations and passenger fares, it is operated by North Island Community Services Society.
  • Port Albeni/Clayoquot Transit System - regular bus service is a City of Port Alberni/BC Transit service and HandyDart is a partnership of RDAC and BC Tranist
  • RDN Transit is cost shared between the RDN and BC Transit, the system is operated by the Transportation Service Department of the RDN.  (as far north as Qualicum Beach and south as Cedar)
  • Saltspring Island Transit System is cost shared between the CRD and BC Transit with decisions made by the Saltspring Island Transportation Commission and operated by Ganges Faerie Minishuttle
  • Victoria Regional Transit System is cost shared between the Greater Victoria Transit Commission and BC Transit it is operated by BC Transit
Not all of Vancouver Island is covered by transit, Ladysmith has no transit, neither does Tofino or Ucluelet.  We have no transit connection from Duncan to the Nanaimo area, and given the number of VIU students living in the Cowichan Valley but going to school in Nanaimo, I would have thought there was enough demand.   There is also no transit to connect the Comox Valley or Port Alberni to the Nanaimo area.

We have a lot of people thinking about some aspect of transportation but with such a dramatic number of agencies involved we have no unified approach on the issue.  No one takes a proper overview to see what resources are needed where and what the future should look like.

With the creation of Translink, the provincial government has clearly set up one example of devolving power to the local level to deal with broader transport issues.
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