Community shuttle bus services for people in remote and Indigenous communities throughout northern B.C. will be expanded and enhanced with $2.8 million in new funding to be shared by 18 communities and organizations.
“This funding will ensure people in rural and remote communities in B.C.’s North continue to have access to affordable public transportation,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast, on behalf of Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The long distances between small, isolated communities in the North underscore importance of maintaining safe, reliable bus services in this part of the province.”
The community shuttle grants were awarded earlier this month by Northern Development Initiative Trust, a non-profit agency that received $7.9 million in federal-provincial Safe Restart funding last year for transportation services in northern B.C.
In addition to 11 organizations that previously received funding, seven new providers are receiving support to bring community shuttle service to dozens of additional rural and remote communities, including Dawson Creek, Chetwynd and the District of Stewart.
“The expansion of the community shuttle bus program is welcome news for communities that previously did not have service,” said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine. “Rural and remote communities throughout northern B.C. continue to face challenges related to the loss of Greyhound bus service in the region. This funding highlights our government’s ongoing commitment to ensure these communities have access to affordable transportation options.”
The northern community shuttle program provides important, community-led transportation support and will replace the existing community transportation grant program effective Friday, April 1, 2022.
“The Northern Community Shuttle Program builds upon the success of the previous Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan and connects even more communities and people together,” said Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “The introduction of new, on-demand and scheduled services will benefit numerous communities, including reaching Dease Lake in the northwest and offering multiple stops along Highway 20 between Williams Lake and Anahim Lake.”
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 intercity BC Bus North service.
Northern Development Initiative Trust began accepting applications for the new community shuttle program in November 2021. As part of its agreement with government, the trust continues to engage with Indigenous communities, local governments and stakeholders to develop grant programs that will address the region’s diverse transportation needs.
Northern Development Initiative Trust is an independent, non-profit corporation that focuses on stimulating economic growth through investments in grassroots, community-led projects. Created in 2004 by the provincial government, it has approved and administered more than $425 million in funding to more than 4,800 projects in central and northern B.C. communities since 2005.
A backgrounder follows.