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Province provides new funding for community shuttle buses in northern B.C.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming. Government of B.C. photo

VICTORIA – A new northern community shuttle funding program will improve transportation services in B.C.’s North.

The program is administered by the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) and is accepting applications from local governments, First Nations, community organizations, non-profit groups and small to medium-sized businesses.

“Safe, reliable public transportation options provide vital links between rural and remote communities in B.C.’s North,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Our government recognizes the importance of developing sustainable solutions for integrated transportation services in northern B.C. and throughout the province.”

NDIT has set aside approximately $3 million to help applicants with the costs of introducing, expanding or continuing passenger transportation services in its service area for as long as three years. The organization began accepting applications to the new program on Nov. 15, 2021.

The northern community shuttle program provides crucial, community-led transportation support and will replace the existing community transportation grant program, which will end on March 31, 2022.

“Northern B.C. is a vast and vibrant place with residents living in many remote and rural communities. Dependable and affordable transportation options are necessary to allow people of all ages to safely travel to access health care, services, education and employment,” said Joel McKay, chief executive officer, NDIT. “Reliable transportation also plays a significant role in allowing people to attend social activities, reducing feelings of isolation and building a strong sense of community.”

The province has funded community buses since 2017 as part of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan. In 2018, after Greyhound discontinued service in the region, the Province launched the long-haul inter-city service, BC Bus North.

The new community shuttle bus grant money is part of a $7.9-million Safe Restart grant provided this year by the federal and provincial governments to help address the need for public transportation in rural and remote communities in northern B.C.

Applicants, including agencies that have previously received community shuttle bus funding, can seek a maximum of $100,000 for capital costs (such as a vehicle purchase), and operating costs to a maximum of $150,000. The total funding request per applicant cannot exceed $200,000.

Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. (Pacific time) on Dec. 23, 2021. Funding decisions are anticipated in early 2022.

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