A bus service will be available between Prince George and Prince Rupert by the end of the year on a notorious stretch of road known as the Highway of Tears, according to the B.C. government.
Eighteen women have been murdered or have disappeared along Highway 16 and adjacent routes since the 1970s.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone says agreements among 16 communities along the highway will allow B.C. Transit to operate a scheduled bus service, slated to start at the end of the year.
“We want to see northern communities connected with safe, reliable and accessible transportation options, in particular providing better and safer options for women and teenage girls,” Stone said in a written statement.
First Nations, social service agencies and women’s groups have called for a shuttle bus service in the area to provide safe, regular transportation for people who live in communities along the highway.
“Many communities along the Highway 16 corridor do not have access to the services or amenities that most of us take for granted, such as accessible healthcare services or transportation,” said Gitanyow deputy chief Wanda Good in a written statement.
“The commitment the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has made to work with these communities to provide safe transportation is a welcome initiative by all who live here.”
The provincial government announced a five-point transportation plan late last year that promised regular B.C. Transit service and programs to train bus drivers from area First Nation communities.
Stone says the B.C. government is providing an extra $1 million to run the bus service while the federal government is contributing $1 million to fund bus shelters, lights and webcams along the route.