The company taking over BC Transit’s northwest services contract as of April says it will be reaching out to employees of the current provider to fill its workforce roster.
Alberta-based Pacific Western Transportation was one of two companies bidding on the contract and was announced as the winner earlier this month.
The contract for this year’s operations is $3.333 million with an overall contract length of nine years, with options to renew.
It ends current provider First Transit’s 11-year contractual relationship with BC Transit in the area.
Through the agreement, Pacific Western will provide drivers, mechanics and fuel to run BC Transit’s Kitimat, Terrace, Port Edward, Prince Rupert and Hazelton routes, including the new Terrace to Hazelton and Hazelton to Smithers Hwy 16 routes.
BC Transit owns the buses and will continue to make routing, scheduling and marketing decisions in conjunction with northwestern municipalities who help pay for the service.
Pacific Western Prince George-based official James Vine said it has already been speaking with many of First Transit’s employees.
“We will be interviewing all current employees who express interest in continuing to operate/support the transit services in each community,” said Vine last week.
“As the level of transit service will remain the same in the region, the amount of people that Pacific Western Transportation will employ will be similar to the current staffing levels,” he said.
There may be some integration of services between Kitimat and Terrace but what that might mean is still not known, Vine added.
Pacific Western Transportation is already an established entity in the north because it operates the Northern Health Authority’s Northern Health Connections bus service which provides patient transportation between northern communities.
This is the second time in recent years Pacific Western, a family-owned company based in Calgary, Alberta has taken a northwest contract from the international FirstGroup which has First Transit as a subsidiary.
Another FirstGroup subsidiary, First Canada, was the Coast Mountains School District’s bus services provider until that contract went to Diversified Transportation, a subsidiary of Pacific Western, in 2015.
Pacific Western Transportation also operates the transit systems in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Prince George. The latter system includes the Burns Lake-Prince George and Burns Lake-Smithers Highway 16 BC Transit service.
Information provided by Pacific Western indicates it operates approximately 23 transit contracts for municipalities/government agencies in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Yukon. It was founded in 1957.