JUST how much it will cost for a BC Transit expansion of bus service along Hwy16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George, including two routes east and west of Terrace, won’t be known until this fall.
Much of the cost can only be determined once BC Transit planners decide on the frequency of the services and the size of the buses, say officials.
Planners are suggesting, for example, a two or three day a week service between Terrace and Prince Rupert of two round trips a day.
“A large part of this will come down to expected usage – frequency, how many times a week and days of the week,” says Kitimat-Stikine regional district administrator Bob Marcellin of how costs will be determined.
That’s important for the regional district because it has signed on to be a financial contributor to the two planned services west of Terrace to Prince Rupert and east of Terrace to the Hazeltons.
Under the regional district umbrella, local governments such as the City of Terrace are also involved.
Any financial agreement will most likely follow an existing model for the BC Transit service between Kitimat and Terrace and from Terrace west to New Remo and east to the Kitselas First Nation’s Gitaus subdivision along Hwy16.
For this route, the regional district, BC Transit, local governments and local First Nations are all financial contributors.
So is the Northern Health Authority as the buses are also used for medical travel.
And for the new routes, the regional district, with the local governments within it, will cover one-third of the costs.
One of the capital cost determinants, added Marcellin, is the size of the buses to be used, something that will depend on BC Transit’s anticipated passenger demand.
BC Transit already has a three-year commitment of $800,000 a year from the provincial government in order to buffer the costs of the four Hwy16 routes.
BC Transit’s Jonathon Dyck says planners will have a much better idea of final service and costs, once they conclude a series of meetings along Hwy16.
“We already have that $2.4 million commitment from the province,” he said.
Those attending those sessions, three of which were held in Terrace, Kitsumkalum and Gitaus last week, are being asked for their opinions on what’s being proposed so far, Dyck added.
“Our customers are who we want to listen to,” he said.
Also up for discussion with BC Transit customers is its proposed $5 one-way fare for each of the four routes, Dyck added.