Tweaks, Funding Increase Keeps Little Prince on Track
Prince George, B.C. – Extra funding from the City of Prince George will help keep northern B.C.’s favourite steam engine, the Little Prince, on track this year.
The Exploration Place run locomotive will see its annual contribution from the City increase from $15,000 last year, to $25,000 this year.
“We’ve been running at a deficit pretty much every year (since 2009), and I think the City has just recognized that and realizes in order to keep it not only affordable for everyone but also running in a safe manner, it has to be properly funded,” says CEO Tracy Calogheros.
The train lost $21,282 last year, but with the extra 10,000 from the City, and a few new changes this year, she projects it will turn a slight profit in 2015.
“We added hard ice-cream to the train station last year I think will prove to be a good revenue stream going forward,” says Calogheros. “We also decided we will go ahead with a family season pass, so an up-sell to a museum membership ($60) so they can ride as much as they like and we’re also going to increase fees across the board”
($1 for kids under 2, 2-18 year olds and seniors $2.50 and $3.50 for adults. As a result riders will get two loops around the track instead of one).
She also plans to extend the train’ s hours but Calogheros readily admits poor weather or a train repair could throw a wrench into those plans.
“It’s such a gamble because the year we blew the steam injectors we had no passenger revenue all year and they cost thousands and thousands of dollars to repair.”
But despite all the challenges, Calogheros says the Little Prince still brings great value to the community.
“That train is just such a symbol of the development and the opening up of the North. And I think too the multi-generational use of the train is something that always strikes me when I do my few days as a conductor,” she says. “It’s part of the flavour that is Prince George, and Fort George Park wouldn’t be the same without that steam whistle in the spring.”