The BC Transit bus route connecting Burns Lake and Prince George, which started on June 19, 2017, has had approximately 300 passengers each month.
The route connecting Houston and Smithers, however, is seeing less passengers, with an average of 100 passengers each month.
Jan. 30, 2018 marked one year since the first inter-community transit service for the Hwy. 16 routes started. According to BC Transit, approximately 5000 people have used their transit service in northern B.C. since then.
“People in northern B.C. – in particular, women and teenaged girls – are benefiting from these new transportation services, knowing there is a safe link to get between communities,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “As minister, I’m proud to see how the increase in bus service, community vehicles and other aspects of the plan have come together and provided a significant boost to safe and reliable travel for people in northern B.C.”
The first inter-community transit service started on Jan. 30, 2017, connecting Smithers and Moricetown in 30 minutes. Since then, other new inter-community routes have launched, connecting Burns Lake and Prince George, Houston and Smithers, and Terrace and the Hazeltons. Enhancements have also been made to the existing Hazelton-to-Smithers route.
This bus service provide an affordable way to travel between communities. The one-way fare is $2.75 for the Smithers-Moricetown route, and $5 per segment for the other routes.
The current buses have a sitting capacity of 20 passengers. BC Transit is planning to implement larger buses with a seating capacity of 30 connecting Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers and Prince George later this year.
The Hwy. 16 buses are just one of the five components of the Hwy. 16 Transportation Action Plan.
The new community-vehicle program, which is another component of the plan, has also seen good ridership numbers, according to BC Transit. Twelve communities and organizations have received grants for community vehicles since March 2017, including the Southside.
In addition, BC Transit says the First Nations driver-education program has been successfully implemented, with driver education and training being offered in communities throughout the corridor. Approximately 100 people have received training from the program so far, and the ministry anticipates another 200-plus students will be trained in 2018.
For the highway infrastructure component of the plan, seven new webcams have been installed and activated so far, with more webcams to be installed and activated in the near future. The webcams help to increase the safety and visibility of pedestrians and motorists along Hwy. 16.
To support the new transit services, the ministry has installed 15 new all-weather bus shelters, and to support the community-vehicle program, five traveller shelters have been installed.