TERRACE is to be the hub of a Hwy16 BC Transit service west to Prince Rupert and east to the Hazeltons, part of an effort to increase passenger service from the coast to Prince George.
So far BC Transit planners have laid out a schedule of twice a day round trip service in both directions for two or three days a week.
From Terrace west to Prince Rupert, for example, a bus would leave at 7:05 a.m., returning from that city at 9:35 a.m. with a second trip leaving here at 2:40 p.m. and returning from Prince Rupert at 5:10 p.m.
Whether that schedule will hold and how many days the service will be actually offered will be determined after BC Transit completes a lengthy series of public meetings along Hwy16, three of which are taking place here this week, says BC Transit official Jonathon Dyck.
“What we’ve heard so far is that people wish a same-day service,” he said. “What we’re planning is a service to complement existing ones.”
In all, BC Transit is planning four services along Hwy16 with one route from Prince George to Burns Lake and one from Burns Lake to Smithers in addition to the two to originate from Terrace.
The idea is to connect major communities with each other along Hwy16 as opposed to a continuous service from Prince Rupert to Prince George, said Dyck.
“The greatest need we’re hearing is for a connection between centres,” he added.
A $5 one-way fare for each route is being proposed with actual costs of the service to be born by a $800,000 annual subsidy from the province over three years and by monies from local governments along Hwy16.
Also to be determined is the size of the buses, something that BC Transit will decide the closer to the time it wants to start, which is later this year.
Also unknown is whether the buses will stop along their routes at other than designated locations to either pick up or drop off passengers.
“The stops have to be in a safe and effective place,” said Dyck.
As it is, the planned Terrace to Hazeltons route on this end will follow the existing route of the BC Transit bus connecting Terrace with Thornhill and the Kitselas First Nation’s Gitaus subdivision east along Hwy16.
And at the Gitaus subdivision, an additional bus shelter would be installed.
BC Transit’s four planned Hwy16 bus routes are part of a $5 million provincial effort over three years to increase passenger service and safety from Prince Rupert to Prince George.
In addition to the $2.4 million over three years for the bus service, $800,000 is to be spent so that smaller communities can offer their own connections to large centres, $300,000 will be spent on First Nations driver training and $1.5 million will be spent on more bus shelters and highway webcams.
Some of the latter money is coming from the federal government.
The three information sessions here this week take place Wednesday, August 31 from 5-7 p.m. at the Kitsumkalum Community Hall; Thursday, September 1 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Skeena Mall; and Thursday, September 1 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Kitselas First Nation’s administration building at Gitaus east along Hwy16.
[note: the original online story had incorrect dates for the information sessions. The August 31 issue of the Terrace Standard has the correct dates.]