The history of transit in British Columbia, Canada, is really the history of one company, the British Columbia Electric Railway Ltd. It and its successor companies -it was provincialised in 1962- provide public transit throughout the province. At first, just Vancouver and Victoria, but beginning in 1972, the provincial government offered transit service to various other communities. Some cities, like Nelson, Powell River, and West Vancouver, already had municipally owned transit systems. These were amalgamated into the provincially owned fleets. Other cities received transit service for the first time. Responsibility for transit services has passed to various departments and crown corporations in the intervening years.

BC Transit is currently the provincial government crown corporation, providing public transit in British Columbia, other than the GVRD. It is responsible for funding, planning, and operating transit vehicles in Victoria and by contracting with private and public sector operators in the rest of the province.

In 1999, the provincial government handed over the transit role in Vancouver to the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD).

Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (known as TransLink) was responsible for transit (and certain roads, bridges, ferries and auto emission testing) in Greater Vancouver. The former Vancouver-area division of BC Transit, formed into a new company, Coast Mountain BusLink (CMBL) provides bus service under contract to TransLink. The name was changed to Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) almost immediately. West Vancouver Municipal Transportation Department provides service to West Vancouver under contract to TransLink. In the intervening years, TransLink has awarded contracts to private companies to provide Community Shuttle service within certain communities, although lately CMBC has won the majority of contracts. I have heard that it is policy to award 15% of contracts to private industry.

In 2007, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority was succeeded by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, although the name TransLink remained. The move was spearheaded by the provincial government, seen by many as a reaction to the delays over the Canada Line. Effective leadership for the organization passed to an unelected professional board rather than politicans.

Page Updated:2008/04/01


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