C-Tran delays vote on independent overseer

Official would take lead on high-capacity projects

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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The C-Tran Board of Directors on Tuesday decided to delay moving forward on the hiring of an independent administrator to help oversee the agency’s upcoming high-capacity transit projects.

The board didn’t discuss the issue. It simply opted not to act without all voices at the table — three of its nine members were absent Tuesday.

C-Tran plans to put a ballot measure before voters in 2012 that would raise the local sales tax to pay for the operation of two new systems: a possible bus rapid transit system on the Fourth Plain corridor, and Vancouver’s share of the light rail extension planned as part of the Columbia River Crossing project. That measure is separate from this fall’s Proposition 1, which would raise the sales tax to pay for existing service.

The agency also intends to seek funding under the state’s High Capacity Transit Act. The law requires setting up an independent expert review panel to look over a high-capacity transit system and finance plan. C-Tran plans to separately hire a panel administrator to coordinate the group and report to C-Tran.

The review panel itself is appointed by state government leaders, said C-Tran public affairs director Scott Patterson. C-Tran decided to also hire an administrator largely following the example of Sound Transit, which went through the same process in 2007 and 2008.

Tuesday’s delay means the board will likely set that process in motion at its November or December meeting, with the goal of hiring an administrator by early 2012, Patterson said. The review panel would need to finish its work by next July to meet deadlines for a November 2012 ballot measure, he said.

C-Tran has budgeted $500,000 to cover the review panel and administrator costs.