Vanderhoof district says yes to Prince George-Burns Lake bus

Vanderhoof’s district council supports BC Transit’s latest proposal for Highway 16 bus, after a divided discussion on required costs.

Vanderhoof’s district council supports BC Transit’s latest proposal of inter-community transportation along Highway 16, after a divided discussion on required costs.

Approving the draft plan during regular council meeting on Nov. 7 with a 4-2 vote, the district is making a one-year commitment to the new bus system, and will reevaluate the usage at that point.

For the Prince George-Burns Lake route, BC Transit is asking about $22,000 per year from each municipality — Prince George, Vanderhoof, and Burns Lake — to cover one round trip on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The service is estimated to require 1.5 buses — one bus will be shared with a proposed service between Burns Lake and Smithers.

Two councillors expressed that the cost-sharing should be calculated differently, according to either ridership or population.

For another councillor, the priority lies on the service’s social benefits, “people getting a safe ride to Prince George.”

Mayor Gerry Thiessen would like more information from users before making a decision.

District staff stated that the quoted operating cost of $123 per hour seems high, and would recommend asking for a more detailed break-down of costs.

According to BC Transit, the amount includes a five to 10 per cent rate increase for potential inflation, contract and vehicle type impacts, new system contingency, and 10 per cent of additional contingencies.

A public consultation booth set up during this year’s Nechako Valley Exhibition gathered 91 participants’ feedback. Most respondents indicated that they supported the service and that Prince George is a desired location for weekly or monthly travel.