Since the bus company announced its route cancellation for all of Western Canada on October 31, northern residents have been left wondering how women who are trying to escape domestic violence to access health services and courthouses will get to their destination.
However, Mary Teegee with Carrier Sekani Family services says northern BC is in a much better position than most other regions thanks to some recent transportation initiatives.
“In the north, we are in an enviable position implementing changes such as a drivers program, there is a grant program, a BC Transit program that’s in the north to connect Prince George to Prince Rupert along the route.”
“We’ve been looking at this issue coming from a place where we want to ensure there is transportation not just for indigenous people but for everyone in the north and I truly believe its a fundamental right to be able to access human services without putting their own safety at risk.”
While the number one recommendation from the Highway of Tears Symposium Report was to have reliable transportation, Teegee adds people still need to be educated about the area.
“What we have to do in conjunction with the available routes and the buses and what not is also to have that education and awareness campaign going on to ensure that our young girls and our young women or anybody is not hitchhiking along the way.”
The final route of significance to be shut down on October 31st is the Prince George to Kamloops run.
Other affected routes that were slashed on June 1st included:
- Prince George to Fort St. James
- Dawson Creek to Prince George
- Prince Rupert to Prince George
- Prince George to Alberta border
Fourteen people will lose their jobs with Greyhound in the northern capital along with 175 across the province.
Teegee says they need to take the disappointing news in stride and it’s now up to groups like theirs to help find more permanent solutions.
“We actually need to look at Greyhound leaving as an opportunity to expand services for everyone to be able to enjoy access those services, hospitals, schools, services and what not,” explains Teegee.
The BC Bus North service connecting residents along the Highway 16 corridor has been in service for a month and has carried 300 passengers so far, with 700 people booked for future trips.
The Province will work with local communities to research the demand for transportation while funding
the project for 12 months.
A one-way fare costs between $35 and $45.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena and BC Transit Interim President and CEO Erinn Pinkerton were both in the northern capital on Wednesday promoting the new service.