A $5 fare bus service from Prince Rupert to Terrace will be available in the new year.
While the City of Prince Rupert opted out of the inter-community bus service operated by BC Transit, that gap will be filled by the Friendship House Association of Prince Rupert and the North Coast Transition Society.
Starting mid-January, a brand new 15-passenger van will offer rides twice a week, once during the week and on Saturday. Executive director of the Friendship House Anna Zanella said more specific details will be released soon.
“It’s open to everybody. It’s inclusive. It could be families, different groups. On the particular two days that it will be travelling that will be the purpose only for providing safe affordable rides. The rides are based on the idea that the province had for a $5 fee. We will not be changing that,” Zanella said.
The province launched the last leg of its bus service connecting communities from Terrace to Prince George on Nov. 17 as part of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan to improve safety along the 700km route known as the Highway of Tears where many women and children have been murdered or gone missing.
Many Prince Rupert residents took to social media to criticize the city for declining to take part in the provincial project, but the city has worked with other organizations to create its own solution with the North Coast Transition Society providing emergency travel options for everyone and the Friendship House offering trips to Terrace to anyone who needs the service.
“The city is thrilled to see the Friendship House receive a new bus and funding to run a transit service to and from Terrace a couple times a week,” Mayor Lee Brain said. “This service, coupled with the North Coast Transition Society’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week transportation program will truly provide multiple levels of transit options needed to address concerns along the Highway of Tears.”
The Friendship House received a $90,000 grant for the bus through the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, which they have used to purchase the van. Zanella said they will be hiring a third driver as well.
The association is also looking to replace its aging Sunshine Coach vehicle, used for youth programs and elder groups.
“Currently, we provide safe rides in the evenings for the youth programs. We have three youth programs and up to 35 youths,” Zanella said, adding that during the summer months they also have a day camp for kids, and she hopes the 15-passenger van will better accommodate those programs.
|Anna Zanella, executive director of the Friendship House.(Shannon Lough/The Northern View)|
On Sept. 30, the Friendship House took possession of the Pioneer Guesthouse in Cow Bay. Zanella said the purchase was to build their social enterprise.
“We are running the business as it is,” she said. The guesthouse will continue to offer accommodation to tourists and students.
The passenger van coming this month will also be a social enterprise. On the two days the van isn’t providing low-cost trips to and from Terrace, it will be a backup shuttle taxi service, and available for bookings for special projects or tours.
“We’re hoping to offer accommodations that have packages where we might be able to take travellers to a tour to Shames Mountain and for them to go skiing or to Tall Trees Trail, different outings such as that,” Zanella said.