Burns Lake, Prince George, and Smithers will soon receive new inter-community transit service, which is made possible through the B.C. government’s $5-million Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan.
The Regional District Bulkley-Nechako Board met on March 2, 2017, and approved moving forward with a transit-service agreement, which will enable BC Transit service between Burns Lake and Prince George and Burns Lake and Smithers.
This agreement means that new bus services will run three days per week, linking the communities of Burns Lake and Smithers (about 145 kilometres apart) and Burns Lake and Prince George (about 230 kilometres apart). The proposed fare is $5 per segment.
Transit service is expected to begin later this spring.
The expanded transit service is thanks to multi-year funding commitments from Prince George, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof, Smithers, Telkwa, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James, Granisle and Houston.
The B.C. government, through the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, has committed to five years of transit funding. The B.C. government is covering 100% of the cost of the buses, as well as funding two-thirds of the operating costs. Local governments, through regional districts, are working together to share funding for their one-third share of the operating costs.
On Jan. 30, 2017, the first expanded transit services started running between Smithers and Moricetown. This service is being used daily by many passengers, and is benefitting local residents in both communities by providing a safe, reliable and affordable transportation service.
Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure –
“This transit agreement is terrific news for all the residents along Highway 16 from Smithers to Prince George, as the new transit services will greatly improve personal safety for everyone, in particular for women and teenaged girls. The residents from these communities will soon be able to travel back and forth between the communities by bus, linking to jobs, school, appointments, and connecting them to family and friends. This is great progress and we look forward to having more transit agreements to announce in the near future.”
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“This follows our announcement of the first transit service agreement as a part of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan between Smithers and Moricetown, which started up at the end of January. People are now using that bus service on a regular basis, which gives them a safe and affordable trip back and forth between those communities, and it’s going really well. So this second transit service sign-on is exciting because it continues that momentum, giving northern B.C. communities safer transportation options, linking communities along Highway 16.”
Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Prince George-Mackenzie MLA –
“This new transit service will have a very positive impact on the people who live, work, and attend college or university in Prince George, so it is wonderful to see this agreement being signed. For the people who live in the smaller northern communities, this new inter-community bus service will help link them to new job opportunities in Prince George, which is a great thing for people of all ages, and for young people just starting out especially.”
Shirley Bond, Prince George-Valemount MLA –
“Transit connects people to jobs, school, services, health care, family and friends. This new transit service – as a part of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan – will mean safer, more efficient travel for people who live along the Highway 16 corridor. The plan is the result of collaboration and partnership and this transit enhancement will have an immediate and positive benefit on personal safety and quality of life for people who live and work in our region.”
Manuel Achadinha, chief executive officer and president, BC Transit –
“These local governments and the Province of B.C. have made a commitment to creating a safe, affordable transportation system to connect communities along Highway 16. With the contributions confirmed, we are now able to implement transit services from Prince George to Burns Lake and Burns Lake to Smithers.”
Lyn Hall, mayor of Prince George –
"Prince George City Council is very pleased that this long-needed service will soon be connecting family, friends, co-workers, and colleagues in a safe, efficient, and reliable manner along this busy corridor. Men and women of all ages need to travel between these communities for professional, academic, family, and medical reasons. Council is pleased to share in this accomplishment and celebrate this news with the BC government, the other local governments along Highway 16 West, and especially the people who will soon be using this service and whose lives will be better – and safer – because of it."
Bill Miller, chair, Regional District Bulkley-Nechako–
“The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako is committed to connecting people across our region. Establishment of the Highway 16 transit service attests to the dedication of the Regional District Board, staff, the City of Prince George, and First Nations partners, improving access to safe affordable transportation for all people.”
To learn more about the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, go to: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/transportation-reports-and-reference/reports-studies/planning-strategic-economic/highway16-action-plan