BC Transit is boosting the capacity of its Highway 16 routes between Smithers and Prince George.
Three new buses will replace vehicles put into service when the routes were launched in June, 2017. The buses will increase seating capacity from 20 to 30 or 20 seated and four in mobility aid spots connecting Burns Lake, Prince George, and Smithers.
“It’s wonderful to see the success of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, which is providing a significant boost to safe and reliable travel for people in northern B.C., in particular for Indigenous women and teenaged girls,” says Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure in a news release.
The new buses feature a high floor design and are equipped with a wheelchair lift at the rear of the vehicle, and overhead parcel racks for passengers.
“The Bulkley-Nechako Regional Transit System has surpassed what was expected in a new public transit service with just under a year of service. High ridership on both the 161 to Prince George and the 162 to Smithers proves that our region needs an affordable public transportation system,” states Bill Miller, Chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. “Public transit reduces the safety risk of people traveling and connects our region to the rest of the province. The addition of larger buses will help to accommodate the high ridership experienced by this transit system.”
Each bus will cost approximately $260,000 and is part of the almost $160 million in federal and provincial funding for BC Transit projects that was first announced in June 2016.
Route 161 (Burns Lake-Prince George) runs a return route of 230 kilometres each way on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Between June 2017 and February 2018, the route saw 2546 passenger boardings.
Route 162 (Burns Lake-Smithers) runs a return route of 145 kilometres each way on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with 1064 boardings during the same time period.