Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain and Christine White

Prince Rupert opts out of Hwy 16 bus plan

The Hwy 16 bus plan will not reach from Prince George to Prince Rupert as planned after Prince Rupert chooses alternative.

  • Dec. 10, 2016 6:00 p.m.

by Shannon Lough – The Northern View

 

Shortly after a six-day bus service between Moricetown and Smithers for $2.75 a trip enhanced a BC Transit plan to connect all communities along Highway 16 from Prince George to Prince Rupert to discourage hitchhiking, Prince Rupert has decided to go a different route.

The City of Prince Rupert decided it won’t contribute to the original provincial plan that would see an affordable limited bus service to and from Terrace.

Instead of sharing the costs with the province to support a three-year pilot program that would provide a low-cost round-trip bus service, the city announced on Dec. 7 it will support a localized solution with the North Coast Transition Society (NCTS) that offers at-risk women and children safe transportation.

The NCTS service enables women and children to call or text any time of the day or night if they need to travel and don’t have the means to pay. The travel assistance has been available for the past two years.

“The North Coast Transition Society’s existing service provides a safe and immediate response, and in addition NCTS provides wraparound social services and support to women and children to ensure they are adequately provided for in times of need. We believe this to be the most important priority,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain.

The wraparound service ensures there is support for the woman once she arrives in Terrace. The Ksan Society has a transition home for women and children and will be informed on who is coming from Prince Rupert to make sure they’re okay once they arrive.

Through provincial grants, the NCTS in Prince Rupert offers women and children emergency funds and travel assistance when seeking help. This includes taxi vouchers to the Transition House, as well as transportation out of town and to Terrace.

“The grant money is not permanent so it is fortunate that the City of Prince Rupert has reached out with their idea to address keeping vulnerable citizens safe when using highways or situated in remote areas. NCTS has the ability to respond immediately in times of crisis and or high risk situations to determine the most effective and efficient plan for their safety,” said Christine White, executive director of NCTS.

The service is adaptable and utilizes transportation networks already available, such as bus, trains, ferry and works in conjunction with other community partners to ensure the safety of the person or family, White said.

In the summer, the provincial government announced the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan to improve transit and safety along the infamous Highway of Tears, the 800-kilometre stretch of highway between Prince Rupert and Prince George where several women have been killed or have gone missing.

Part of the province’s $5-million plan was to create a community transportation program, where the municipalities and First Nations’ governments would share the cost in providing a bus system along the highway.

“While we are disappointed that Prince Rupert has chosen not to support inter-community transit along Highway 16, we respect their decision to go another route,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “We have said to Prince Rupert that the door is open, should the community decide to change direction and take advantage of the transit program in the future.”

BC Transit spokesperson Jonathon Dyck stated in an email that further discussions will be required with the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, the proposed local government contract holder, to determine next steps.

A six day a week bus service between Smithers and Moricetown will begin in January through a partnership with the provincial government, BC Transit and local governments.

“With so many partners along the corridor committed, plans to implement transit service between communities from Terrace through to Prince George can proceed,” Stone said.

Between August and September, BC Transit asked the public for feedback on what they would like from a bus route for their community. Most residents who responded to the provincial survey stated they wanted to use the bus service for medical appointments or for shopping in Terrace.

After consulting with First Nations and service groups, Port Edward council, provincial and federal representatives, the City of Prince Rupert determined the limited bus service back and forth to Terrace two to three times a week was not the best option. City officials believe that in more centralized areas where communities are closer together, such as between Terrace, Hazelton and Smithers, BC Transit’s proposed bus plan makes more sense.

“For us, supporting NCTS is a localized solution that can act in complement with improved transportation between communities inland,” Brain said.

The District of Port Edward had also been skeptical on the cost-sharing bus program to Terrace.

“We believe this proposed alternative transportation program better serves our circumstances,” said Port Edward Mayor Dave MacDonald.

For planned trips, residents have access to the Greyhound bus service that leaves Prince Rupert at 10 a.m. daily as well as a VIA rail passenger train that departs three times a week at 8 a.m. For patients, Northern Health operates Northern Connections bus service for out-of-town medical appointments.

Just Posted

‘Ruff week over for canine owners as Prince Rupert dog park reopens

McKay Street dog park was temporarily closed for repairs after a car crashed into fence

Prince Rupert marine business adds second catamaran to its fleet

100-passenger Aurora was launched this year for the Rio Tinto Kemano tunnel project

Sustainble economy flourishing in Haida Gwaii and Great Bear Rainforest thanks to First Nations investments

From 2008-2018, funding initiatives led to more than $286 million in new investments

Cats of Third Avenue fire are safe and sound

Boris, Ben, Boomboom, and Bella were found two days after their home was set ablaze

Indigenous voices finally heard with final MMIWG report, says Northwest B.C. advocate

The report contains more than 200 recommendations to multiple levels of government

Prince Rupert’s Seamen shine in year end rugby victory

Weekend doubleheader featured a historic win over Williams Lake

WEB POLL: Would you like to see another mural go up where Zorba’s Taverna’s old one used to be?

The iconic quirky mural from Prince Rupert’s Greek restaurant was painted over this week

Coroner’s report confirms suicide in Ben Kilmer case

2018 disappearance sparked massive search

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Update: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Most Read