Northern Health’s medical bus service has moved to restrict passenger travel due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Recognizing the age and underlying health of our clients, only those individuals requiring travel for essential medical appointments will be booked for service,” Northern Health has stated in a release regarding its Northern Connections service which takes patients to health care facilities and appointments through the north and down to the coast.
The one exception is for individuals who may be in mid-trip and who have a paid return ticket prior to March 22. They are still eligible to use the service to return home.
Specifically, and with no exceptions, the service will not be accepting walk-on passengers.
“No passengers exhibiting symptoms will be allowed to board; we would expect anyone who finds themselves symptomatic of any respiratory conditions prior to their trip to cancel or postpone their travel,” said Eryn Collins from Northern Health.
Buses are also being cleaned and disinfected regularly, she said.
The Northern Connections schedule, however, has not changed.
Its main Prince Rupert to Prince George service along Hwy16, which has regular stops in between, continues to leave Prince George bound for Prince Rupert on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, returning on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Westbound from Prince George, the bus stops in Houston at the Houston Health Centre at noon, leaving five minutes later and eastbound from Prince Rupert, it stops at the Houston Health Centre at 2:50 p.m., leaving five minutes later.
The westbound stop in Burns Lake takes place at the Town Pantry at 11 a.m., leaving five minutes later and eastbound, the stop at the Town Pantry is at 3:50 p.m., leaving five minutes later.
The public-sector supported BC Bus North service is continuing its schedule of two round trips a week between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
But, the service has indicated in a notice to potential passengers, people exhibiting flu-like symptoms are being asked not to travel.
As well, it has added to its regular disinfecting and cleaning of coaches and has introduced commercial grade, sterilization foggers each overnight.
It has also provided drivers and ticket office staffers with gloves, disinfectant spray and disposable towels for cleaning of touchpoint surfaces.
Drivers are also maximizing fresh air onboard and are not recirculating air.
Meanwhile BC Transit, which runs service from Smithers to Burns Lake with stops in between, has its drivers are monitoring passenger levels to determine social distancing between passengers and to provide space should passengers wish to move around while on the bus.
As with BC Bus North, BC Transit has enhanced daily disinfecting cleaning for high touch areas including stanchions, hand straps, stop buttons, doors, and seat tops.
Detailed cleaning is also underway as required for each bus.
It’s also asking people to stay home if they are feeling unwell.