Public transit is coming to Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced today in Prince George that a previously announced $3 million action plan for the Highway of Tears, has been beefed up to $5 million, thanks in part to the federal government.

“We’re thrilled that the federal government came to the table with $1 million through Indigenous Affairs to enable us to significantly increase the number of transit shelters and web cams that we will be able to install along Highway 16. That’s going to tremendously enhance safety along the corridor.”

The Ministry of Transportation committed another $800,000 to run BC Transit service along the corridor for a third year. BC Transit aims to have the first buses in service by the end of the year.

“This is a plan developed from the ground up,” says local MLA Shirley Bond. “It involves First Nations leaders, it involves all of the mayors and the regional districts along the corridor. So I think this is about people working together for the same purpose – to improve safety for, in particular, women and girls along the Highway of Tears.”

The Provincial Government and local governments have signed 16 MOU’s to move forward with transit along the corridor.

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“Northern BC and this Highway 16 corridor, is a remote part of the world,” says Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach. “The population is spread out and people in their daily lives need to get in to the regional service centres to access employment services, to shop. I really see transportation services as a critical link in terms of quality of life in our region.”

Communities, First nations and Aboriginal organizations will also be able to apply for funding and grants to operate local shuttles. The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation also plans to invest $300,000 in First nation driver training as part of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan. The minister has posted a request for proposal on BC Bid for qualified organizations to deliver the program.

You can find more information on the plan here.