Review of transit welcomed

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom's recent announcement of investigation into B.C> Transit pleases some North Okanagan politicians

Local officials hope a review of B.C. Transit will lead to increased efficiencies and responsiveness.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom recently announced plans for an independent investigation of B.C. Transit’s performance and operations.

“I believe he is responding to municipalities and regional districts to examine B.C. Transit’s role with municipalities in planning now and in the future and speeding the processes up to allow willing communities and regional districts to move forward more rapidly when they have approved increases in service,” said Patrick Nicol, Regional District of North Okanagan chairperson.

“I applaud the minister for taking a careful look. It is a vital service.”

The three-person review panel will consider the efficiency and effectiveness of transit services, the existing governance structure and policies, the funding relationship between B.C. Transit and local governments and communication between the Crown agency and municipalities and regional districts.

“It’s a positive move,” said Bob Spiers, a Vernon councillor, of the review.

Presently, Vernon pays 53 per cent of the cost of transit through fares and taxation while 47 per cent of the local service budget comes from B.C. Transit.

“It’s a big ticket item and it’s something we need to look at further as we consider expanding (the service),” said Spiers.

It’s expected the panel members will submit a final report to Lekstrom by the end of August.

“B.C. Transit provides good transit service, although there is always  room to improve,” said Lekstrom in a release.

“I have selected a knowledgeable and experienced panel  that will examine the issues and provide recommendations. I am optimistic  the independent B.C. Transit review will help make transit even better.”