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More BC Transit stops possible in Houston and area

But prospect hinges on financing by local governments

More BC Transit bus stops in Houston and area are possible but their installation hinges upon local governments coming up with the money, a wide-ranging study by the provincial transportation service has concluded.

BC Transit looked at potential stops east of Houston along Hwy16 at Perow Road and the Bye Frontage Road as well as two stops within Houston at Kanata Road/Hamblin and Alix Frontage Road for its service covering Smithers to Burns Lake.

The first two potential stops were classified as being more problematic than the latter two.

“Due to the off-corridor nature and time required the Perow Road routing poses more difficulties in serving than a potential stop location along Bye Frontage Road which offers clear visibility from the highway and short through-road routing,” explained the BC Transit study.

“Neither street offers lighting.”

With these two possibilities as well as five others along Hwy16 between Smithers and Prince George, BC Transit indicated the provincial transportation ministry would need to be involved to properly prepare the locations for a stop.

But for the two potential stops within Houston, the possibility is more immediate for this spring or summer pending reaching agreements with local governments to finance ongoing maintenance, including snow removal.

The Kanata Road/Hamblin stop would be added to the service’s regular stop schedule while the Alix Frontage stop would only take place upon request of a customer.

“BC Transit works with local government and operating partners to assist in the identification and review of potential stop locations to ensure that operational requirements are met,” explained BC Transit official Jonathon Dyck.

“BC Transit provides information and recommendations, but decisions regarding installation as well as ongoing maintenance of bus stops are the responsibility of the local government partners.”

BC Transit examined the idea of additional stops late last year as part of an evaluation of its recently-introduced service connecting communities along Hwy16.

The Smithers to Burns Lake service operates twice a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

It, like the other Hwy16 routes, is operated through BC Transit but financed in large part by the provincial government with local governments supplying a smaller share. Ticket prices are subsidized.

Late last year Rob Newell, the Bulkley-Nechako regional district’s director for the rural area surrounding Houston, speaking at a meeting of the committee set up to consider transit issues, indicated a commuter-style bus service was needed between Smithers and Houston because of workers and students travelling between the two communities.

“Any new or expanded service has to be supported by both funding partners,” said Dyck of the provincial and local governments who finance the service.

As of right now, the province’s budget for the current Hwy16 service has been fully committed.

About the Author: Rod Link

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