On Jan. 30, 2017, the first expanded transit service as part of the Hwy. 16 transportation action plan started running between Smithers and Moricetown. (File photo)

Hwy 16 transit use inconsistent

Two years in, bus ridership is down or up since a year ago depending on which community.

The press release title from B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure reads ‘Increased use marks Highway 16 plan’s second anniversary.’

Overall that is true, but not all communities from Terrace to Prince George are experiencing increased ridership along the inter-community routes, according to the Ministry’s own numbers from a year ago.

The Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan started with its first route between Witset and Smithers in January 2017, and is separate from the BC Bus North program that replaced Greyhound in June of last year.

Driven by the Burns Lake to Prince George route that counted 390 rides per month, and the Hazelton to Smithers route with 285 rides per month, the Ministry release said the inter-community service has provided about 18,000 rides since it started — up from 5,000 after the first year.

The six-day Witset-Smithers route is up to 115 rides per month, up from 90 after after the first year. It costs $2.75 to get on this bus. All other routes are $5.

READ MORE: Smithers-Moricetown bus service 6 days per week

That Hazelton-Smithers route may still be popular, but it is down from when it first increased service at the end of 2017. The first full month saw 355 riders.

Second-year route numbers of riders per month (first-year numbers in parenthesis):

Burns Lake-Smithers 160 (100)

Burns Lake-Prince George 390 (300)

Smithers-Witset 115 (90)

Smithers-Hazelton 285 (355)

Hazelton-Terrace 170 (240)

READ MORE: The wheels on the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan rolling for a year now

As part of the plan, there are also connections to places off the main highway like Kispiox and Glen Vowell.

Full schedules and maps can be found by navigating the BC Transit site at bctransit.com/choose-transit-system.

For Bulkley-Nechako (Witset, Smithers, Burns Lake, Prince George) routes click here.

For Hazeltons to Smithers or Terrace, click here.

Tickets can be bought at municipal offices along the routes.

READ MORE: BC Transit introduces larger buses on Highway 16

For longer routes going all the way down the highway, BC Bus North is at bcbus.ca. Reservations are required.

In a report from a Dec. 21 Smithers and District Transit Committee meeting, Smithers routes 22 (to Telkwa) and 23 (to Witset) were said to have an overall ridership increase of 18 per cent over 2017 “over the last three months.”

Ridership for the on-demand para-transit service was reported as up 14 per cent in the same time for Smithers and District Transit. Combined ridership for the Smithers routes and para-transit was listed at 4,700 for those three months.

Also passed by the committee and then Smithers council at the Jan. 8 meeting was a motion moved at committee by Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) Area A (Smithers rural) Director Mark Fisher that would result in double the money coming from the RDBN to Smithers for transit.

The motion read that in lieu of Area A’s $5,000 per year raised from taxes, Smithers apply for a Gas Tax grant from RDBN Area A for $40,000, with Area A giving that over four years at $10,000 per year.

The Province has committed to funding the $6.4-million Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan inter-community service for five years. The funding covers the cost of buses and two-thirds of operating costs. Local governments and First Nations partners are responsible for the remaining third of costs.

READ MORE: Highway of Tears public transit plan wins safety and security awards

–With files from Quinn Bender and Marisca Bakker.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Thursday’s blackout likely caused by vandalism

Power was out for 10,000 customers from Quick to the Hazeltons for almost 11 hours

VIDEO: Witset cannabis shop officially opens

The store, located at the gas bar on Hwy 16, is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Tahltan fighter from Telkwa wins provincial award

Lando Ball recognized for his commitment to and accomplishments in karate and for community service

RCMP patrol of smokehouse sparks concerns by Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader

Hereditary Chief Woos says he is feeling uneasy after RCMP attended the smokehouse with rifles

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read