One year into the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan implementation, approximately 5,000 people have used BC Transit’s new, expanded transit service to travel between northern communities safely, reliably and affordably.
“People in northern B.C. in particular, women and teenaged girls – are benefiting from these new transportation services, knowing there is a safe link to get between communities,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena. “As minister, I’m proud to see how the increase in bus service, community vehicles and other aspects of the plan have come together and provided a significant boost to safe and reliable travel for people in northern B.C.”
The first inter-community transit service for the Highway 16 routes started on Jan. 30, 2017, connecting Smithers and Moricetown in 30 minutes. Since then, several other new inter-community routes have launched, connecting Burns Lake and Prince George, Burns Lake and Smithers, and Terrace and the Hazeltons. In addition, enhancements have been made to the existing Hazelton-to-Smithers route.
The new bus services provide an affordable way to travel between communities. The one-way fare is $2.75 for the Smithers-Moricetown route, and the one-way fare is $5 per segment for the other routes. The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine offers discounts for youth and seniors on the new Hazeltons-Terrace route.
“Thousands of people are benefiting from the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, which was developed in close consultation with First Nations and local governments,” said Doug Donaldson, MLA for Stikine. “The implementation of the plan gives safe and affordable transportation options for B.C.’s northern communities located along the Highway 16 corridor. This is meaningful transportation service to the people in the North.”
“The success of the new and enhanced transit services along Highway 16 would not have been possible without the support and hard work of the Province of B.C., First Nations, our local government partners and community groups,” said Manuel Achadinha, BC Transit president and chief executive officer. “I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to connect people and communities along Highway 16.”
The new community-vehicle program has also been successful with high ridership numbers. Since the summer, more than 9,000 passengers have used the new community-vehicle services. Over 7,000 of these are from the shuttle service between Vanderhoof and the Saik’uz community, which carries on average 43 passengers a day.
“The community-vehicle program has had a very positive impact in both Vanderhoof and Saik'uz,” said Reg Mueller, Deputy Tribal Chief, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and Advisory Council member. “With the community vehicles providing reliable transport, this is providing valuable access to employment and education opportunities.”
“The community-vehicle program is a great partnership and has changed our communities for the better,” said Gerry Thiessen, mayor of the District of Vanderhoof. “The program has made quick and reliable access between Saik’uz and Vanderhoof for medical appointments, shopping and recreation, and it is also a great asset for our seniors who require transportation that they know they can count on.”
The First Nations driver-education program has been successfully implemented, with driver education and training being offered in communities throughout the corridor. Approximately 100 people have received training from the program so far, and the ministry anticipates another 200-plus students will be trained in 2018.
For the highway infrastructure component of the plan, seven new webcams have been installed and activated so far, with more webcams to be installed and activated in the near future. The webcams help to increase the safety and visibility of pedestrians and motorists along Highway 16. To support the new transit services, the ministry has installed 15 new all-weather bus shelters, and to support the community vehicle program, five traveller shelters have been installed.
A backgrounder follows.