Chris Causton introduced our speaker, Manuel Archadinha.  Manuel is the CEO of BC Transit.  Prior to joining BC Transit in 2008, Manuel was with BC Ferries and in charge of Terminal Operations.  Before that he was with the Treasury Board with the Province of B.C.  Outside of work, Manuel enjoys playing soccer. 

Manuel started off his presentation by asking how many in the room had taken transit in the last year.  He seemed impressed by the show of hands.  He went on to explain that one of the biggest challenges of transit, is to get people to try it.  There seems to be a philosophy that transit is only for the too old, too young, or for those that do not have enough means for a car. 

A current focus for BC Transit is to encourage business people to try using transit so they can see that it is an efficient and cost effective option. 

Manuel mentioned that when talking to the general public there are always the same 2 issues that arise: 

1. Convenience

2.  Reliability – buses need to be on time.  This poses a difficulty because the buses are treated like every other vehicle on the road.  In the last 3 months or so, the average speed of the buses has gone from 25 km/hr to 20 km/ hour, meaning the average trip is taking longer.  Since the frequency of buses needs to stay the same, this in turn means another bus is required for the route.  This ends up costing the taxpayer more money. 

As a community we need to shift our way of thinking about transit.  Transit cannot be another vehicle on the road.  Instead, moving people should be the priority.  On Douglas Street alone, transit takes up less than 15% of the road, but moves more than 60% of the people.  However, this is often not the case in more remote areas of the city.

 Manuel brought up the LRT proposal.  Since this is a very expensive proposal he felt we could look at other solutions.  Firstly, he believes that we need to encourage more people to take transit.  HOV lanes (4+) or bus only lanes during peak hours would be a good start.  If people are stuck in traffic and see the buses whizzing past them, they may start to consider taking the bus instead of their own vehicle.  An issue with implementing something like this, is that the local government will meet a lot of public resistance. 

In this region, transit is funded through rider fares, property taxes, gas taxes, and the Provincial Government.  Transit is striving to get better and provide the best service to the customer, because they realize that they get a lot of their funding from the taxpayer. 

 When looking at the future of transit, Manuel explained that it is important to target the youth and get them hooked on taking transit.  When the U-pass was first implemented, less than 10% used transit, but now over 30% are transit users.  He re-iterated that if transit is not efficient and effective the youth will start to look for another method of transportation.