The provincial government’s three-year, $5 million plan to increase transit service along Hwy16 from Prince Rupert to Prince George comes with the carrot, which is the money, and an all-so gentle stick which is determining how the money is to be used.
That’s because the two most important elements of the plan – BC Transit service along the highway and community buses to better connect smaller communities with larger ones – must be cost shared with local governments and communities.
In the case of BC Transit, the province’s commitment for $800,000 for each of the three years represents two-thirds of operating costs with local governments expected to come up with the rest.
For community buses, the province has committed $800,000 over the three years to both buy vehicles and operate them with a target of covering 70 per cent of the cost.
Still, there simply won’t be enough provincial money to go around to satisfy everyone when it come to frequency of service and the times of day when that service will be offered.
But there are already glimmers of what can be done. Nass Valley communities, for instance, already have community buses used to bring people to Terrace. The provincial money could broaden that service.
In the end, increasing transportation options will require creativity, cooperation and much good will.