Transportation Along the Highway of Tears

Rhonda Lee McIsaac —

Bus service has been in place along Highway 16 west from Prince George to Smithers since June 19, 2017 following years of discussion and recommendations stemming from the Highway of Tears symposium. Burns Lake was the official site where the BC Transit Highway 16 transit plan was unveiled.

Smithers Mayor and Regional Transit Services Committee Chair, Taylor Bachrach stated that he’s “received some positive feedback from residents who have used the bus” but did not have any ridership numbers. He says he should have those numbers after the Regional District Transit Committee Meeting on September 7.

Mayor Bachrach acknowledges that full numbers will not be too high as “Regional transit services such as this one take some time to grow their ridership” and, “there may be opportunities for us to increase marketing of the service, or adjust the service based on feedback we’re receiving”, he said via Facebook messenger.

The inter-community bus service will serve the northern communities of Burns Lake, Prince George and Smithers as part of the Highway 16 Transit Plan and the Province of BC’s, Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan. Services initially began with a route between Smithers and Moricetown.

The $6.4 million Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, will cover the costs of transit, community vehicles, First Nation driver’s education, webcams and bus shelters, and increased collaboration between the parties involved in this Plan. Multi-year funding commitments have been garnered from communities along Highway 16.

Recent discussions for further safe and affordable transportation options for vulnerable citizens from Prince Rupert to Prince George is being considered by VIA Rail. Further discussions are needed to determine the cost, viability and the qualifications for those deemed ‘vulnerable’ before a decision is reached.

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