The BC government made the final announcement of a commitment to fund transit operations for five years along highway 16 today in Smithers. That’s a boost from their previous three year commitment as part of the Transportation Action Plan.

“It’s a small, but meaningful step towards ensuring the safety of community members travelling along our highway corridor. Today’s announcement of additional funding and extended funding is a really significant contribution…and it’s going to ensure the success and sustainability of this initiative,” says Mayor, and Member of the Transportation Advisory Committee, Taylor Bachrach.

The long anticipated service along the highway of tears is aimed at providing better and safer transportation options for women and teenage girls.

Today’s announcement also compliments the launch of the first buses in the action plan set to roll out Monday, with an increased transit service between Moricetown and Smithers.

“Transportation is such a vital aspect of our life here in the north. The new transit system we’re launching today…the first phase of the transit portion of the highway 16 Action plan, is going to make a real difference for real people in our communities,” says Bachrach.

Bachrach and Moricetown Band Chief Duane Mitchell welcome the increased transit agreement as the first partnership of its kind between the two communities. Mitchell says he’s looking forward to fostering a meaningful relationship with the town, while dealing with a hitchhiking problem.

“You look at the news…Highway 16 has got this black eye that we want to get rid of – this is one way of helping,” says Mitchell.

Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad, who made the announcement on behalf of Minister of Transportation Todd Stone, says residents of Smithers and Moricetown will greatly benefit from the new six day a week bus service.

“It is gratifying to see the highway 16 Transportation Action Plan move from a vision into reality,” says Rustad.

The province will cover 100 per cent of the vehicle costs and two thirds of the operating costs for the entire $5 million Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan.