The transit service along Highway 16 is seeing good ridership numbers two years after the program was unveiled, according to the province.
Inter-community BC Transit service along Highway 16 has transported approximately 18,000 passengers since it started two years ago as part of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan. With all four new routes fully operational, the service saw significant growth in its second year, expanding on the approximately 5,000 passengers who used the Highway 16 transit service the first year.
“These safe travel options are particularly critical for women, teenagers and elders, who have been asking for these services to be brought in,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a news release. “These buses are providing an important and affordable service to people in B.C.’s northern communities, and I look forward to seeing ridership growth continue.”
The inter-community routes connect people between Smithers and Moricetown, Burns Lake and Prince George, Burns Lake and Smithers, and Terrace and the Hazeltons.
The bus services provide a low-cost way to travel between communities. The one-way fare for the Smithers/Moricetown route is $2.75 and $5 per segment for the other routes. Routes 161 and 162 originating in Burns Lake now have 30-seat capacity buses and overhead package racks, offering better service to people.
The breakdown of ridership per transit route is as follows:
* Smithers to Moricetown: approximately 115 people per month
* Burns Lake to Smithers: approximately 160 people per month
* Burns Lake to Prince George: approximately 390 people per month
* Hazelton to Terrace: approximately 170 people per month
* Hazelton to Smithers: approximately 285 people per month
“I’m proud of the hard work of our partners to make transit services along Highway 16 a success,” said Erinn Pinkerton, president and chief executive officer, BC Transit. “I look forward to continuing to collaborate to improve and enhance the services we provide connecting people and communities in central and northwest B.C.”
Updates from other components of the action plan:
* To support the transit services, the ministry has installed 15 all-weather bus shelters, completed the Bear Road at Highway 16 shelter site preparation in Prince George and helped the City of Terrace procure and install four shelters.
* The community vehicle program is fully operational, with all 12 transportation services providing safe, reliable transport for Indigenous communities and organizations in northern B.C. Each community runs its own service, made possible by grants that allowed the 12 communities to purchase and operate a community vehicle (such as a van, mini-van, SUV, or a bus). This program is providing more than 2,500 rides per month to people who live and work in the North.
* The First Nations driver education program is helping Indigenous people learn to drive commercial vehicles and helping them obtain their Class 4, 5 and 7 driver’s licences. Driver training is ongoing in several locations along the corridor, with over 200 students participating to date.
* The ministry is installing and activating more webcams along the Highway 16 corridor to help increase the safety and visibility of pedestrians and drivers. To date, the ministry has installed 11 new webcams at key locations. One of the recent cameras was added at Highway 16 at North Nadina Avenue in Houston. This provides north, west and east views of the highway.