Tuesday, May 30, 2023

New round of funding announced for BC Bus North and Northwest Community Shuttle programs

The BC Bush North departing from the Highliner  in Prince Rupert

The British Columbia Government has announced some new funding for a pair of transportation options that serve the Northwest.

On Monday, the Government outlined that 5 million dollars would be delivered to Northern Development Initiative Trust to continue the BC Bus North and Northern Community Shuttle Program until 2026-27.

“We understand how critical BC Bus North and the Northern Community Shuttle program are to meeting the needs of people in northern communities who may otherwise have limited transportation options,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Extending these northern programs will ensure people can continue to access safe, reliable and affordable travel options to connect to family and industry in larger centres.” --  Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The Province will also be adding 250,000 dollars towards the development of a new easy to use web based platform to be used for travel planning reservations and customer service for transportation needs in the region. 

The new, booking system will include multiple service providers and allow people to book various travel options using one platform. The platform should be ready to use by fall 2023. 

“Passenger transportation services in northern B.C. will benefit greatly from this investment by the Province of B.C. The $5 million to extend the Northern Passenger Transportation Service funding program will support the operations of shuttle buses between rural and remote communities, while also benefiting the BC Bus North service that travels between regional centres. This additional funding will support mobility for those who live and work in B.C.’s North, allowing them to visit family and friends and access services using reliable transportation.” -- Joel McKay, chief executive officer, Northern Development Initiative Trust. 

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice was part of Monday's announcement, the MLA sharing some of  her enthusiasm for the project through her Social Media Stream.

Should Ms. Rice wish to check out the Community Shuttle aspect of the program, she will have to leave the riding she represents and hop aboard a BC North Bus out of Prince Rupert and travel to Terrace. 

That as the Community Shuttle service does not serve her constituents.

The Community Shuttle program which links the Northwest to Prince George by way of local bus connections, currently starts and ends in Terrace. 

That a legacy of the decision in 2016 by officials in Prince Rupert and Port Edward  to not participate in the program when it first launched. A decision that seemingly holds to this day.

More on the  Community Transportation service can be reviewed from the NDIT website.

While not part of the popular and growing provincial transit service based shuttle program between communities,  Prince Rupert is served by a few options. 

That by way of BC Bus North, Northern Health Connections bus and a service operated twice a week by Friendship House, though that service has been sidelined until sometime in June owing to maintenance requirements.

Details on the BC Bus North program can be reviewed here.

The access to the Northern Connections bus is explained here.

VIA Rail also serves the Northwest, with trips three times a week between Prince Rupert and Prince George with stops at communities along the Northern main line.

More on Monday's announcement and future plans for the programs can be reviewed here.

Further notes related to the Highway 16 corridor can be explored here.

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