Transit planners pleased with response to Hwy16 bus service plan

And Saturday seems to be a popular choice for service to connect communities

  • Fri Sep 2nd, 2016 6:00am
  • Draft

PEOPLE speaking to BC Transit planners along Hwy16 are leaning toward wanting a Saturday service connecting communities.

It’s one of the more common comments being received as BC Transit stages a series of meetings along the highway from Prince Rupert to Prince George leading toward final decisions on service days and service frequency on those days.

So far BC Transit is planning four routes – Terrace to Prince Rupert, Terrace to the Hazeltons, Smithers to Burns Lake and Burns Lake to Prince George – and will finalize details this fall leading to beginning service by the end of the year.

“Anecdotally, from what I’m hearing, there’s a preference for a weekend day, Saturday,” says Chris Fudge, who is BC Transit’s senior manager for the region.

“What we’re hearing about is a service for recreation, shopping, social reasons, medical services,” he added.

“What this won’t be is a daily service in the sense that people can commute,” Fudge said.

Fudge was one of two BC Transit employees at the Skeena Mall Sept. 1 speaking with people and one of a group that also set up an information display the same day at Gitaus and at Kitsumkalum the day before.

So far BC Transit is suggesting a service of either two or three days a week west of Terrace to Prince Rupert and a service two or days a week east of Terrace to the Hazeltons with both routes offering two round trips on each service day.

And being very well received is a suggestion of a $5 one-way fare for each of the four proposed routes.

“That’s been very favourable,” said Fudge.

He said BC Transit officials have been happy with what they’ve been hearing at their various stops between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

“The awareness level is very high and people are very, very supportive of what we’re trying to do,” Fudge said.

As for final decisions on frequency and times, Fudge said that will be up to local communities to decide in conjunction with BC Transit planners.

Also unknown at the moment is whether buses will stop at other-than established and approved locations to pick up or drop off passengers.

“There are rules and procedures which need to be followed that very much revolve around safety. Stops have to be in a safe location,” said Fudge.

But he did add that BC Transit wants to be flexible and that in other areas of the province where it offers rural and more remote service, stops at other-than officially approved locations are permitted.

And Fudge said BC Transit will adjust and evolve its Hwy16 service once the routes begin and day to day operations are experienced.

BC Transit already has experience in providing service between far-flung communities in other areas of the province.

“The longest we have is is a health connections service from Williams Lake to Kamloops, so with these four [Hwy16] routes, they would be the second, third, fourth and fifth longest,” Fudge said.