Making connections for the North
Connections are made to be strengthened and, sometimes, broken.
That is what has happened over the past year with the Northern Health Connections bus service, according to regional manager of transport services Reina Pharness.
“We saw another increase in ridership last year,” she says, “but we analyzed how the routes were being used. Some of the underutilized routes were cancelled.”
However, some other routes have seen changes to provide better service.
“Before, the Prince George to Vancouver route ran two direct trips and one trip via Kamloops. Now, all three of the trips are direct.
“We got a lot of feedback from riders and found very few patients were going to Kamloops.”
Connections allows patients from smaller communities in northern B.C. to come to Prince George for health services, including specialist appointments and services, as well as providing an inexpensive way for northern patients to get to Vancouver for treatment.
Pharness says it’s still too early to tell how much of the increase in ridership last year was due to the opening of the new cancer centre in Prince George, but adds they have found ridership does vary by season.
“Historically, over Christmas is always a little lower, and then over the summer as well. Generally, from November to February sees a little less use, then it picks up again.”