Prince George-Mackenzie Liberal MLA Mike Morris is calling for more frequent bus service in the north.
Earlier this week, BC Auditor General Michael Pickup released an audit stating the region is still in need of a long-term transportation plan following Greyhound’s departure in 2018.
Morris cited an agreement by the Ministry of Transportation and Northern Development Initiative Trust that would administer transportation services in the region.
While he’s glad groups like NDIT are stepping up to the plate, they should not have the final say on any new routes.
“They shouldn’t be tasked with determining where those routes go. They might be holding the money and people might have to come up with a business plan that meets whatever criteria in terms of reference that the government provided NDIT, but is that the right thing? I don’t know.”
The audit noted BC Bus North has filled some gaps, but only serves 56% of the stops left behind by Greyhound.
A new bus route from Fort St James to Prince George is on the mind of Morris.
Morris who is a retired RCMP officer lived in the rural community and remembers a daily bus service that was well utilized, which also stopped in Vanderhoof.
He adds short hauls like that need to be brought back sooner rather than later.
“Those are the kinds of services that we still need. There is a lot of people in Fort Saint James that don’t have vehicles or don’t have access to vehicles and rely on public transportation. Prince George is the regional service centre, we can’t get around that fact.”
Pickup noted in this week’s audit, bus service continues to be a lifeline for many of the 285-thousand residents who call the north home, especially for those who live along the Highway of Tears corridor.
Morris would like to see bus service become a lot more frequent than it is now.
“The bus service is intermittent, not every day of course and it’s once a week for some folks. If somebody needs to come into Prince George for an appointment or because it’s a regional centre they often have to spend several nights in a hotel before they can get the next bud back. Those things need to be addressed.”
“The whole focus of this has been centered around people living in urban centres in British Columbia that don’t have a very good idea of what goes on in the north so I really think they need to focus on that, meet with the communities and find out what the community needs are and incorporate that into whatever plan they come up with.”
“The uniqueness of rural British Columbia in the northern 75% of the province, need to be incorporated into that plan.”