As Greyhound’s passenger service departs northern B.C., Houston residents now have access to a new bus service.
BC Bus North, provided by BC Transit, began service on an interim basis June 4.
The new pilot service, backed by $2 million in provincial funding, provides two round-trip routes a week between Prince Rupert and Prince George.
Mayor Shane Brienen said the new bus service is “great news for all northern communities.”
“The early feedback is that people seem very pleased with the schedule and the hours,” he told Houston Today.
The Prince Rupert to Prince George route, which will run Fridays and Sundays, will depart from Houston’s A&W stop at 2:40 p.m.
The Prince George to Prince Rupert route will run Thursdays and Saturdays, departing from Houston’s A&W stop at 1 p.m.
Greyhound’s passenger service stopped running in northern B.C. last week after citing losses of more than $10 million annually to justify the pullout.
B.C.’s transportation minister Claire Trevena said she’s pleased with the fact that - unlike Greyhound’s schedule in northern B.C. - the new bus service will operate during daytime hours.
“BC transit made a commitment so that people can travel when they really need to,” she said. “I think the BC Bus North is truly a service for people, not for packages.”
Each bus carries 44 passengers and is equipped with washrooms and space for luggage.
Depending on how far a passenger is travelling, the fares will be $35 or $45 one way, which can be booked online with the use of a credit card.
Flagging the bus is not permitted, and passengers are required to book by 2 p.m. the day before their trip.
The bus routes, operated by Pacific Western Transportation, will run for a year before being reassessed by the province and BC Transit.
“Once the service is up and running, we’re going to take the next step by working with northern communities to find a long-term solution that delivers a sustainable, affordable solution for these communities,” said minister Trevena.
The new bus service also provides two round-trip routes a week between Prince George and Valemont, Prince George to Dawson Creek and Fort St. John; and one round-trip route a week to Dawson Creek and Fort St. John from Fort Nelson.
To book your travel, call 1-844-564-7494 or book online at bcbus.ca. There are no retail outlets, offices or physical addresses at which to purchase tickets.
BC Bus North “complementary” to current bus system
According to BC Transit, the new bus service is meant to be complementary to the existing service connecting communities between Smithers and Prince George.
“These services are meant to be complementary to each other as they meet different travel needs,” said Jonathon Dyck, a spokesperson for BC Transit. “We are pleased with the ridership we have seen on the Hwy. 16 service to date, and look forward to continue to promote that service along with the BC Bus North option.”
Ridership on the existing bus service between Smithers and Burns Lake (route 162) has increased over the past three months - with 95 passengers in February, 121 in March and 160 in April. The route connecting Burns Lake and Prince George (route 161) saw 299 passengers in February, 394 in March and 306 in April.
Earlier this year BC Transit implemented new buses with increased seating capacity - from 20 to 30 - along routes 161 and 162. These new vehicles replaced the buses that were put into service when the Hwy. 16 routes were launched in June 2017.
“Feedback and ridership on the Hwy. 16 routes has been positive,” said Dyck. “We recognize that there is a learning experience with any new service implementation, and we continue to monitor the services to determine if any adjustments need to be made.”
- With files from Keili Bartlett and Ashley Wadhwani