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Ridership growing on Highway 16 transit service

Ridership on BC Transit's service along Highway 16 has been on the upswing, according to Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure numbers released Friday.
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A B.C. Transit bus picks up passengers in Prince George before heading to Burns Lake last summer.

Ridership on BC Transit's service along Highway 16 has been on the upswing, according to Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure numbers released Friday.

In the 19 months it's been in place, it's drawn 12,000 passengers - with 7,000 of them taking to the service over the last seven months, compared to about 5,000 over the first full year of operation.

It began in January 2017 starting with service between Smithers and Moricetown. By June 2017, it had been expanded to include service from Prince George and three new larger-capacity buses were deployed in May.

On average, Burns Lake to Smithers has drawn 320 people per month, as has Hazelton to Smithers. Hazelton to Terrace has attracted 250 people, while 130 are taking Burns Lake to Smithers and 90 taking Smithers to Moricetown on average each month.

Fares are $5 one-way per segment.

As well, a shuttle service, which transports passengers from communities north and south of the highway is drawing interest. A mid-year check showed it's been drawing about 2,200 rides each month, the ministry said.

As well,a First Nations driver education program is ongoing with over 190 students successfully obtaining their Class 4, 5 and 7 driver's licences.

And to date, 11 new webcams have been installed and activated, in addition to 15 all-weather bus shelters for the BC Transit routes and six traveller shelters for the community vehicle program.

The numbers were issued a day after the ministry released numbers showing the coach-style BC Bus North service is gaining in popularity. In June, the first month it's been on the road, it had close to 300 trips booked, increasing to about 450 in July. As of early August, the upward trend continued, for a total of 900 trips booked in just a little over two months.

It offers twice-per-week service between Prince Rupert and Prince George, Prince George and Valemount, and Prince George and Dawson Creek/Fort St. John. Additionally, BC Bus North provides one round-trip per week from Dawson Creek/Fort St. John to Fort Nelson.

One-way fares are either $35 or $45 per route, depending on how far people are travelling.