In the latest update of the Hwy. 16 action plan, a $5-million plan that will have buses connecting communities across the Hwy. 16 corridor, B.C. Transit proposes a $5 fare.
The $5 fare would be for one way only, and for each segment. This means that a person wishing to travel from Smithers to Prince George would pay $5 from Smithers to Burns Lake, and then another $5 from Burns Lake to Prince George.
According to Chris Fudge, Senior Regional Transit Manager for B.C. Transit, the proposed $5 fare received “very strong support” during the plan’s engagement process.
The engagement process included 20 community engagement events, as well as 753 online surveys and 250 paper surveys that were completed.
“There were very few people that we spoke that didn’t support the fare structure that was being proposed,” said Fudge.
Under the proposed plan, customers will also have the option of buying 10 tickets for the cost of $45. Children aged five and under will travel free given that they are travelling with a paying guardian.
Fudge provided the latest update to the Burns Lake council on Oct. 4, 2016.
Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach, who was also at the meeting, called the Hwy. 16 action plan a “tremendous opportunity.”
“We feel that this is a very generous offer from the province; and the other part is that, as communities, this is an opportunity for us to work together on a shared project.”
“We don’t have many opportunities like that,” he continued. “I don’t know of any other projects that Burns Lake and Smithers have worked on together.”
“It’s neat to talk about what that means for our part of the world because we’re all pretty small communities and things are harder and harder for small communities as we see services becoming centralized and some aspects of quality of life being threatened.”
“The idea of us being connected by this service has the potential to help people stay in our communities,” he added.
B.C. Transit is currently finalizing the plan – including detailed scheduling, revising route maps, confirming stop locations, preparing vehicles and creating marketing materials.
Now that Luke Strimbold has resigned as mayor of Burns Lake, a new council representative will be appointed to represent the village on the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako transit committee, which was created to oversee some segments of the plan.
Partial bus service along the highway corridor is expected to start in December 2016.