Three new buses for Highway 16 routes

New Highway 16 buses unveiled in Burns Lake. BC Transit photo
New Highway 16 buses unveiled in Burns Lake. BC Transit photo

Three new buses have been rolled out for BC Transit’s Highway 16 routes between Smithers and Prince George.

The three new vehicles, unveiled in Burns Lake Thursday, replace the buses that were put into service when the Highway 16 routes were launched in June 2017. The routes are part of the Highway 16 transit plan and the Province of B.C.’s Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, connecting the northern communities of Burns Lake, Prince George and Smithers.

“It’s wonderful to see the success of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, which is providing a significant boost to safe and reliable travel for people in northern B.C., in particular for Indigenous women and teenaged girls,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a news release. “Bringing in larger, higher capacity buses is really positive news for those who rely on public transportation in these smaller, northern communities, as these buses will be able to transport more people to work, school, appointments and visits with family and friends.”

The ridership on these routes has been positive and the new 2017 International ElDorado 320 AeroElite buses will increase current seating capacity from 20 to 30.  With all mobility aid positions in use, capacity will be 24 passengers (20 seated and four mobility aids). The increase will enable BC Transit to better meet the transit needs of the passengers who rely on the service to travel between communities in the Bulkley-Nechako region.

“The Bulkley-Nechako Regional Transit System has surpassed what was expected in a new public transit service with just under a year of service,” said Bill Miller, chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. “High ridership on both the 161 to Prince George and the 162 to Smithers proves that our region needs an affordable public transportation system. Public transit reduces the safety risk of people traveling and connects our region to the rest of the province.  The addition of larger buses will help to accommodate the high ridership experienced by this transit system.  With support from BC Transit, Pacific Western Transportation and our Municipal and First Nations partners, we are committed to safe, affordable transportation for all people.”

The new buses feature a high floor design and are equipped with automatic passenger counter (APC) units and a wheelchair lift at the rear of the bus. Also on these buses are convenient overhead parcel racks for passengers to use for small packages.

“The growing demand shows the Highway 16 service to be a significant component to transportation solutions for residents of the region,” said Erinn Pinkerton, BC Transit Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. “These new, higher capacity buses are essential in connecting people and communities efficiently and effectively along these routes.”

Each bus will cost approximately $260,000 and is part of the almost $160 million in federal and provincial funding for BC Transit projects that was first announced in June 2016.

The one-way fare on each of these routes is $5 per segment. Route 161 (Burns Lake-Prince George) runs a return route of 230 kilometres each way on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Between June 2017 and February 2018, this route saw 2546 passenger boardings. Route 162 (Burns Lake-Smithers) runs a return route of 145 kilometres each way on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with 1064 boardings during the same time period.

For more details on the Burns Lake to Prince George and Burns Lake to Smithers route, please visitBCTransit.com/Bulkley-Nechako.