Friday, May 21, 2021

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach calls for safe, affordable public transportation across Canada

With the latest announcement of the cessation of a Greyhound bus route, this time in Ontario, making news this week,  Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach and fellow New Democrat Matthew Green of Hamilton-Centre have issued a joint letter to the Transport Minister.

With the pair of MP's calling for Minister Omar Alghabra and the Federal Government to work with provincial partners towards funding to provide for public inter-city transportation.

The Greyhound announcement in Ontario this week, is a familiar theme for those of us in Northwest British Columbia, the Cross Canada bus line having ceased operations in Northern BC back in 2018.

The latest pull away from rural communities has given the two MP's cause to suggest that the government should expand the mandate of VIA Rail to include public bus transportation. 

An option that they believe will give rural communities an opportunity to access the jobs and opportunities that are enjoyed in urban areas.

"In such a vast country as Canada passenger transportation is a vital contributor to rural communities' equality of life. Canadians living in rural areas need affordable, convenient  transit options that they can rely on. The urgency need a plan to re-establish  rural bus routes abandoned by Greyhound and expand bus service in rural regions, The government should expand the mandate of VIA Rail To include public bus transportation" -- NDP MP's Taylor Bachrach, Matthew Green 

The letter from the two NDP MP's to the Transport Minister
(click to enlarge)

Mr. Bachrach relays some background from British Columbia in the letter, noting how the lack of affordable, safe passenger transportation was considered one of the contributing elements  in the cases of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women  and Girls along the highway 16 corridor known as the Highway of Tears.

The BC North Bus at 
Prince Rupert's Highliner 
Plaza Hotel
When Greyhound pulled out of British Columbia in early 2018 , the provincial government stepped in to fill some of the void creating the BC North Bus service which continues to operate on a schedule that sees two trips a week arrive and depart from Prince Ruper

The BC and Federally funded service just received another year of funding, with the BC Government providing the service with 1.6 million dollars towards operating costs.

The future of the Service that serves northern British Columbia will be the subject of a review by the BC Auditor General Michael Pickup.

His work will determine whether the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure: ensured the delivery of an effective interim long-distance bus service to B.C. northern communities has a plan to develop a sustainable solution for long-distance ground transportation that reflects the needs of northern communities 

In announcing the audit he specifically, noted how it will assess whether the ministry is: ensuring delivery of interim services to the region verifying delivery of safe, reliable, and affordable interim services ensuring efficient interim services developing a plan for a sustainable solution.

Mr. Pickup outlined his focus in a video released earlier this month.  

Another transpiration option for many parts of the Northwest, is the BC Transit community to community service from Terrace to points east and south.

At the time of its creation in 2017, the City of Prince Rupert chose not to participate in that service, a position they continue to maintain, with no direct BC Transit service between Prince Rupert and Terrace the result.

As for the VIA Rail service it continues to face its own  challenges in the region, with frequent delays in transit owing to the increasing level of use of the main line for freight to and from the Port of Prince Rupert.

The link to the letter and an opportunity for constituents to comment on their proposal can be reviewed here.

More notes on transportation across the Northwest can be explored here.

To follow more of the work of the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP see our archive page here.

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