by Andru McCracken
Since the service started on June 4th, the ridership on BC Bus North has been increasing and there have about 1250 trips booked to date, but only 53 riders have used the Valemount-Prince George route as of the end of August.
“We recognize the service is still growing and are monitoring ridership. …we have received feedback suggesting changes to the Prince George-Valemount schedule,” said Danielle Pope, who manages communications for the Ministry of Transportation.
The bus leaves Prince George at 7am Mondays and Fridays and arrives in Valemount at 11am, stopping at McBride and Tete Jaune along the way. The bus leaves Valemount around 3pm and arrives at approx. 7pm in Prince George the same day. The current schedule makes it impossible to do a return day trip to Prince George and there is schedule duplication with VIA Rail and the Northern Health bus, as previously reported by the Goat.
Pope said the service will consider changing the schedule after the interim period.
“The BC Bus North interim service is operating with 4 buses covering a large geographic area. The overall service will be evaluated to determine how to proceed following the interim period, and schedule changes to improve travel will be considered.”
The cost of the service is hard to beat. One way fares are between $35 and $45 per route depending on how far people travel.
Pope said that the service aims to grow ridership both by promoting the service and by gathering input from local stakeholders.
Dannielle Alan, the Regional District representative for Canoe Robson Valley said she is a fan of the service, but hopes to see changes to the schedule.
“I love the investment the BC government is putting into this,” she said. “Low cost transportation is worthwhile, but it needs to be an integrated transportation solution.”
Alan said if BC Bus North can collaborate with VIA Rail, the Northern Health Bus and other transportation carriers it could better facilitate moving around the valley.
“It would be more user friendly and more efficient; it would help with tourism and it would facilitate tours.”
“Let’s get everyone working together to provide the most options,” she said.
For one family in Valemount, the service is working well as it is.
Darcie Kwasnycia said her boys use the bus to visit their dad in Prince George.
“They love that it is clean and they can plug their devices in. Their dad and I love it because we do not have to be on the highway and the cost is reasonable,” said Kwasnycia. “The time works perfect for us. It is a wonderful service I hope we can keep.”
Customers can purchase tickets using credit card or debit by calling 1 844 564-7494 daily between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or by visiting: www.BCBus.ca.