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A northern Connected Bus Network could be a reality in 2022

They Greyhound Bus shut down in 2018 in the north, the rest followed in 2021 during the pandemic.

Since then, a primary form of highway bus transportation for northerners has been the BC Bus North service, funded by the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT).

The system isn’t perfect, many travelers need to book multiple times with multiple busses across the NDIT service and others, which can be especially difficult for people who are not great with technology, or are living in more remote communities.

The NDIT is trying to improve this system with a service that would be the first of its kind in Canada – the Connected Network.

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“The idea here is to make it easier for folks who want to travel around northern BC via bus transportation” said Joel McKay, the CEO of Northern Development.

Right now, he said “you have to be your own travel agent if you want to use different bus services around northern BC.”

The Connected Network is the proposed solution – bringing together different bus services around the north under one uniform platform as an app, call center, and information campaign.

“There are thousands of people around northern BC that use these services” that they would be helping, said McKay.

The biggest hurdle at the moment is securing funding from the Ministry of Transportation.

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“We are looking to secure a reasonable amount of funding from the province to support this initiative. It is the first of its kind in Canada, and is very well aligned with the transportation action plan for northern BC.”

If the program and funding are approved by the province, McKay said the service could be up and running by as soon as the end of the year, and potentially expanding into the south, as well as rail and ferry transportation.

“We are really trying to drive an innovation to start here in northern BC first, something that would work for rural communities first. If we are successful with it, we would look to expand and invite in other partners in the future.”

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