A new board and fresh ideas will fuel the creation of a transportation initiative for the Capital Region, says the newly-appointed chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.
Maja Tait said she is committed to working with the Capital Regional District (CRD) to set priorities and speak with a unified voice to senior governments.
“The CRD recognizes we really need to work together as a region on transportation. I’m not sure what that will look like yet,” she.
The Sooke mayor was appointed transit chair by B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming after serving on the commission for seven years. She will chair the eight-member board for at least the next four years, which includes elected representation from Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich and Metchosin.
“A regional transportation authority will create more formality around the delivery of transportation services and help build and foster collaboration,” Tait said.
The CRD has floated the idea of a transportation authority for years and formally set it into motion in 2017. When the West Shore pulled its support, opponents feared that the priorities of the core municipalities would overshadow their own. They also thought adding a CRD service would increase bureaucracy and costs.
Tait said with the transit commission and CRD board priorities to be determined next month, she believes regional transportation planning will be a major focus for both.
“If we’re all really serious about prioritizing this, then I trust it will come in time,” she said.
While the regional district and the transit commission have not formally laid out their four-year strategic plans, CRD chair Colin Plant advocates for a regional transportation authority.
“I’m interested in how we can work together and define transportation goals,” he said. “I would like to see the CRD go in a more regional direction with transportation.”
Tait, meanwhile, said B.C. Transit must encourage people to take the bus with innovative approaches to increase ridership.
B.C. Transit follows this path with the first RapidBus route between the West Shore and downtown Victoria to begin on April 10. The RapidBus plan aims to have transit faster and more reliable than driving a car.
B.C. Transit is also starting infrastructure construction this spring in preparation for a fully electric fleet by 2040, with 10 electric buses expected to arrive in Victoria this summer.
“The big thing is safe and reliable service,” Tait said. “As we continually improve things, it will ease road congestion and improve transit ridership.”
The transit system has a fleet of 355 buses on 37 conventional routes and 18 community bus routes covering Greater Victoria, including Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Langford, Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Metchosin, Highlands, Sooke and Duncan.