Bow Valley Regional Transit System

Bow Valley Regional Transit Services
Case Study in Business Application
Koji Miyaji
General Manager, BVRTSC
How was the BVRTSC formed?
 Officially formed and recognized by the province as a
Regional Transit Commission on April, 2011
 Stakeholders identified
 Consultative approach with all stakeholders
 Studies were commissioned through consultants –
Feasibility Study, Original Business Plan, lots of
 Took a number of years
What was in place before/currently
 Various different transit services managed independently by
various sources
 No joint management, cost or resource sharing,
 Town of Banff – Transit (Happy Bus, Roam)
 Lake Louise – Parks contracted out, independent businesses –
ran hotel shuttle service
 Private regional transportation service between Canmore, Banff,
Lake Louise
 Winter Ski resort service provided by private businesses
 Taxi service
 Some of the above still exists
Why a Regional Transit Commission?
Strategic mandates matched for member municipalities
Timing matched for member municipalities
Projected costs made sense
Shared resources opportunity
 infrastructure – Buses, new transit facility on Banff, Green trip
 Management – transit expertise to oversee rather than the
“corner of the desk syndrome”
 Green Trip – regional emphasis
 Learned from past experiences
Challenges based on current experience
 Complexity in setting up a business entity independent from all
member municipalities
 In the initial set up (early years) Consulting report(s) help for
some guidance, but gaps exist in reality and theory – major
underestimation in the workload, admin costs, capital cost
estimates, lack of understanding in what it takes to establish an
independent government business entity, transitioning issues,
 No history of transit commission, so regulatory bodies had some
difficulty in applying existing policies (eg OAC, Enforcement
issues, insurance)
 Cost share amongst member municipalities very important.
Everyone needs to feel they are getting their dollars worth and
being very clear who pays for what and why
 Balance workload so that all members are getting
appropriate levels of attention/service from Commission. No
perception of favourtism or being ignored (good
communication practice is needed to ensure this is
understood by all members)
 Sensitivity to all member municipality needs. Need to
establish good policies to ensure realistic parameters are
established…managing expectations
 Lack of public awareness of how a Transit Commission
works (eg. Who they call?, who is running this operation?)
Risks con’t
 Positive relationships between Board members critical.
Need to have a clear mandate, priorities, good Operating
Bylaw, Clear policies and procedures otherwise issues and
specific agendas can take organization sideways
 Establish an understanding to the public and private sector
that public transit is different than private transportation
firms. Perceptions of competing with private sector will
arise. Be clear with your mandate, be clear with whom
public transit serves and the need that it fulfils
 Positive relationship of Board members – good
synergies, good agreement on priorities
 Good, implementable cost allocation formula (based
on service hours)
 Resource of transit management expertise well
utilized amongst stakeholders in all municipalities
 Good regional approach to lines of business
 1st regional service (Canmore to Banff) getting great
ridership response.
 Setting up the Commission: When working with consultant to draft, develop
conceptual plans, feasibility studies, business plans etc, have a transit expert involved
throughout the whole process who has relevant experience in similar transit
operations, realistic costs, understanding of work complexity, understanding of the
calculations used etc. Work with the consultant closely and ask the questions or
clarifications that are needed in the development of the work.
 Understand the stages of Commission development: Ensure adequate support
resources are available to do the work. (eg. IT support, Communications, Marketing,
Financial management, mechanical, road maintenance, point of sale, customer
service etc) Its not just about managing a transit route and buying buses…
 Be flexible in revisiting Business Plans and budget figures.
 Project for adequate infrastructure for future needs
Learnings con’t
 “devil is in the details” don’t underestimate the
details of who does it, when, how, where (municipal
partners have their own work to do…)
 Be clear on what your service mandate is and have
priorities clear. Cannot be all things to everyone
 Communities/ municipalities new to the public transit
experience will need to be educated on how public
transit works (bus stops, fares, do’s and don’ts on a
bus etc.)

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