Burns Lake chamber members heard Members of the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce also had an opportunity to voice their opinion about the Hwy. 16 action plan last week.
One of the participants asked what will happen to Greyhound once the Hwy. 16 action plan is implemented.
Silas Brownsey, Executive Director for the Ministry of Transportation, said the main intention of the Hwy. 16 action plan is to bring more transportation options to the public, not less.
Greyhound told Lakes District News last month that it’s hard to predict the extent of negative impacts to Greyhound at this point.
Another participant asked if buses will connect surrounding First Nations reserves to Hwy. 16.
Chris Fudge, Senior Regional Transit Manager for B.C. Transit, said B.C. Transit has met with local First Nations leaders to discuss this plan and hear their concerns.
It still hasn’t been determined which communities will be served since applications for the community vehicle grant program remain open.
Participants also asked if the buses will carry bikes. To that, Fudge explained the buses will have the capacity to carry two bikes.
When it comes to luggage, there is no capacity underneath the buses or overhead.
“The rules around belonging is that they need to be in people’s care and control, free of the aisle,” said Fudge.
When asked if there will be a minimum age for people to ride the bus, Fudge said that’s a “difficult question to answer.” “I don’t think there are very firm rules around that,” he said.
The buses will have 20 seats available and it is not possible to reserve a seat. Participants questioned what will happen when the bus is full.
Fudge said B.C. Transit can’t predict what the ridership will be like at this point.
“We’ll be monitoring this system closely, especially in the first six months, to be able to deal with situations [such as buses operating at capacity] and act quickly if that is the case,” he said.
Burns Lake acting mayor John Illes questioned if the buses will increase the number of people who shop out of town.
Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach commented that Smithers council has had the same discussion. He said that even though some people will travel to other communities to shop, the buses will likely increase opportunities for all communities.
Jordanna Evans, manager of the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, told Lakes District News that although the new bus system may entice local residents to head out of town to shop, it is also going to bring people into Burns Lake that may not otherwise have.