City Commits to 5 Years of Funding for Highway 16 Transit
Prince George, B.C. – The City of Prince George has agreed to a five year commitment to fund the new Transit service along highway 16.
At a cost of $50 thousand dollars per year, the City had originally only signed on for one year, but there were concerns raised by other communities along the highway about the future of the service if P.G. didn’t sign on for a longer term.
The approval has no impact on the 2017 budget, as the $50 thousand for 2017 has already been built into the spending plan for this year.
Councillor Susan Scott says there have been plenty of rumours flying about who will be able to use the service, but Mayor Hall put that rumour to rest. “As you know it ( the service) came about as a result of Mr. Oppal’s report (report on missing and murdered women in B.C) on providing safe transportation for those travelling along Highway 16. That’s where the crux of this started with Government, so they turned it to the Transit Authority to come up with a model to come up with a delivery system We have had no discussions around potential restrictions on riders on highway 16.”
Mayor Hall says the plan has the Provincial Government covering the capital expenses and communities along the route would share in a percentage basis to fund the operational side. “Originally when this started there was discussion about a 3 to five year (funding) commitment, we decided to take the one year route for 2017, subsequent conversations with Transit and the other stakeholders along highway 16 there was some concern about the only one year commitment, and if we were only in for one year, what would that mean for the entire operation over the 5 year period. So if we opted out after one year, it would certainly put a financial strain on small communities like Telkwa, the Hazelton area, Burns Lake, and this (5 year commitment) is what they have requested.”
Mayor Hall says one leg of the service has already started running between Smithers and Telkwa “The concern is to provide safety along Highway 16 so they are not hitch hiking, to reduce that kind of situation which we all know has turned out to be not so pleasant over the years.”