BURNS LAKE – A new transit service started running this week on Monday June 19 connecting the northern communities along Highway 16. There was a public gathering in Burns Lake last Friday to celebrate the bus service running three times per week.
Two BC Transit service routes will run from the hub in Burns Lake. Route 161 will depart Burns Lake for Prince George, with stops in Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof and return the same day, a distance of 230 kilometres each way, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The one-way fare will be $5 per segment.
Route 162 provides service between Burns Lake and Smithers, a distance of 145 kilometres each way on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“The two new routes better connect people and communities along the Highway 16 corridor,” said Manuel Achadinha, BC Transit President and Chief Executive Officer.
This new service will have a positive affect on the local economy and it will serve to further solidify communities like Burns Lake and Vanderhoof as sub-regional centres between Prince George and Smithers.
“The District of Vanderhoof is glad to be involved with the other communities from Prince George to Smithers in providing a reliable form of highway transportation,” said District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen.
“It is a truly momentous day for our community and our region,” said Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach. “For someone like myself who was born and raised here, this is a long time coming.” He said the new bus service will also improve access to education, jobs, services and healthcare.
“It will mean more access, more convenience and more choice for our local residents,” he said. “It’s going to be such an amazing addition to our community and to our region.”
“We are extremely pleased that there are more safe travel options for the north,” said Mary Teegee, Carrier Sekani Family Services Executive Director of Child and Family Services, the host agency of the Highway of Tears Initiative. “I applaud the work of municipalities, First Nations and government to launch the new transit services. This is a good example of true partnership and effective collaboration.”
The new service will provide a safe and affordable transportation to all families along the corridor and hopefully eliminate the need for hitchhiking.
“You still see lots of people hitchhiking, hopefully we can eliminate that,” said Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George. “This is definitely a positive start and a step in the right direction and it’s a testament that we can all work together – First Nations, local government, regional government and the province.”
“This is not the end, we still have much work to address the root causes associated with the missing and murdered women and girls,” he added. “It is not just a First Nations issue, it is an issue along Hwy. 16.”
This new inter-community transit is part of the $6.4 million Hwy. 16 transportation action plan, which encompasses transit, community vehicles, First Nations driver education, webcams and bus shelters. “The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako is committed to connecting people across our region,” said Bill Miller, Chair of the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako. “The new Highway 16 transit service attests to the dedication of the Regional District Board, staff, the City of Prince George, and First Nations partners, improving access to safe affordable transportation for all people.”
“[The] announcement is the culmination of years of work by local governments, community advocates, First Nations and the provincial government,” said Taylor Bachrach, Smithers Mayor and Regional Transit Services Committee Chair. “I’m confident that the new Highway 16 transit service will be a positive legacy for our region, allowing families to safely and affordably travel between communities to access the services they need. Thank you to everyone who worked hard to make the new service a reality.”
This new inter-community transit is part of the $6.4 million Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, which encompasses transit, community vehicles, First Nations driver education, webcams and bus shelters, and increased collaboration. It is also made possible thanks to multi-year funding commitments from Prince George, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof, Smithers, Telkwa, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James, Granisle and Houston.
Detailed information about schedules can be found at www.bctransit.com/bulkley-nechako.
In addition to the government funded Hwy. 16 transit service there will be a locally funded bus service within Vanderhoof to shuttle residents around town, and also, importantly; connecting Saik’uz and Vanderhoof. The local bus will be free and it will run its week day route a few times between 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with part of the day set aside for “on call” rides. More information to come.
– with contribution from Flavio Nienow and press release by BC Transit
PLUS: Vanderhoof & Saik’uz shuttle starts July 10!