A one-year extension to the BC Bus North service has been granted, meaning people who live and work in northern British Columbia can continue to rely on inter-city bus service, the Province announced on Monday.
The service has become a crucial lifeline in the region as other transportation options have been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First announced in September 2019, Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Province have extended support to fund the northern inter-city service for another 12 months. In total, over $1.6 million in one-time funding will support the BC Bus North operating costs until March 31, 2022.
“Support for reliable methods of transportation has only become more important during a time when many people need access to essential services not available in smaller communities,” said Mélanie Joly, federal Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “Maintaining an effective transportation network helps support local economies while providing a safe and affordable means of transport for residents of northern communities for another year.”
Diversified Transportation, the current operator of BC Bus North, will continue providing service until the contract expires. Services are contingent on the provision of federal funding and are temporary.
“Connecting communities and people is essential, especially in a province like British Columbia with such a large and diverse rural and northern population,” said Terry Beech, MP for Burnaby North-Seymour and Parliamentary Secretary. “Extending this service will provide economic growth, as well as safe passage for travellers between Northern B.C.’s remote communities.”
BC Bus North launched service on June 4, 2018, across northern B.C. and has a fleet of four highway coaches that provide scheduled service to 39 communities.
“People in the North can continue to rely on affordable, dependable public transportation to access employment, education and support family members,” said Rob Fleming, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We recognize that it’s vital for everyone to have reliable transportation available to them, and the distances between communities in the North makes it that much more important for people to have access to safe, regular bus service.”
Service was not disrupted by the pandemic. Additional safety measures like plexiglass seat partitions were installed to ensure riders are able to keep a safe distance from each other.
“For people in northern B.C., the service that BC Bus North provides is vital to their weekly routines and well-being,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast. “Indigenous communities and British Columbians living in these rural areas rely on this reliable, affordable transportation service, and we’re thrilled that BC Bus North will continue to serve people from Prince George, to Prince Rupert, Fort Nelson, Valemount and all locations in between.”
* BC Bus North offers four routes, between Prince George and Prince Rupert, Valemount and Prince George, Prince George and Fort St. John, and Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson.
* Two round trips are provided each week on all routes, except for Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, which is one round trip per week.
* Fares are distance based and range from $11 from Valemount to McBride to $65 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
* BC Bus North covers nearly 7,000 kilometres every week, or about 28,000 kilometres per month.
* BC Bus North has provided rides for over 13,000 people since the service launched in 2018.
For more information on BC Bus North, including schedules and fares, visit: https://bcbus.ca/