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$3 million for Northern B.C. community shuttle program

The provincial government announced Wednesday $3 million in funding to put more community shuttle buses on the road in Northern B.C.
BC Bus North bus
BC Bus North covers nearly 7,000 kilometres every week.

The provincial government announced Wednesday $3 million in funding to put more community shuttle buses on the road in Northern B.C.

The community shuttle funding program will be administered by the Northern Development Initiative Trust, and open to local governments, First Nations, community organizations, non-profit groups, and small to medium-sized businesses, the Ministry of Transportation stated in a release. 

Funding, up to $200,000 per application, will help with the costs of introducing, expanding, or continuing passenger transportation services in a service area for as long as three years, the ministry said.

"Northern B.C. is a vast and vibrant place with residents living in many remote and rural communities. Dependable and affordable transportation options are necessary to allow people of all ages to safely travel to access health care, services, education and employment," said NDIT CEO Joel McKay in a statement.

"Reliable transportation also plays a significant role in allowing people to attend social activities, reducing feelings of isolation and building a strong sense of community," said McKay.

Wednesday’s announcement follows a report from B.C.’s auditor general last week that found Northern B.C. remains without a long-term transportation plan three years after Greyhound shuttered its routes across the region.

The province has since been funding BC Bus North to help cover the routes abandoned by Greyhound. However, the auditor general found BC Bus North reaches only 35 of the 62 stops near communities that Greyhound had served, and that trips are less frequent — down to once or twice a week compared to the daily trips on most Greyhound routes.

The ministry says the new $3 million in funding is part of a $7.9-million Safe Restart grant provided this year by the federal and provincial governments to address the need for public transportation in rural and remote communities in northern B.C.

The new community shuttle funding program will replace the existing community transportation grant program, which will end on March 31, 2022, the ministry said.

"Safe, reliable public transportation options provide vital links between rural and remote communities in B.C.'s North," said Minister Rob Fleming said in a statement. "Our government recognizes the importance of developing sustainable solutions for integrated transportation services in northern B.C. and throughout the province."

Applications will be accepted through NDIT until 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Dec. 23, with funding decisions anticipated in early 2022, the ministry said.

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