By Goat Staff

An updated inter-community transportation program is intended to strengthen community shuttles to and from rural communities.

Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) is managing the provincial program and is accepting applications from local governments, First Nations, community organizations, non-profit groups and small to medium-sized businesses for passenger transportation services.

The Province says over the next three years, the $3 million will help applicants with the costs of introducing, expanding or continuing passenger transportation services in its service area. The organization began accepting applications to the new program on Nov. 15, 2021.

“Safe, reliable public transportation options provide vital links between rural and remote communities in B.C.’s North,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The $3 million funding announcement is specific to NDIT’s Community Shuttle Program and is separate from BC Bus North, which is contracted to run to March 31, 2022.

The northern community shuttle program provides “crucial, community-led transportation support” and will replace the existing $2.6 million community transportation grant program, which will end on March 31, 2022, a press release said. That program helped 12 community transportation services purchase vehicles and provided four years of operational support.

The Safe Restart funding will enable northern bus services, including in areas served by BC Bus North, to be sustained and enhanced, the Ministry says. The vehicles provide more than 3,000 monthly rides to people who live and work in the north, according to the Province.

Applicants can apply for up to $100,000 in capital costs and $150,000 in operating costs.