GPS tracking, airport service included in plan to attract more transit riders in Prince George

·2 min read
Prince George saw a 45 per cent decrease in people riding public transportation as the pandemic has led to students taking courses remotely. B.C. Transit is hoping to attract more riders with their future service improvement plan. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC - image credit)
Prince George saw a 45 per cent decrease in people riding public transportation as the pandemic has led to students taking courses remotely. B.C. Transit is hoping to attract more riders with their future service improvement plan. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC - image credit)

With many university and college campuses closed and more people working from home, it's no surprise that the number of people taking public transportation has decreased significantly since the start of the pandemic.

In Prince George, ridership numbers have gone down 45 per cent, according to B.C. Transit, but officials are hopeful that a five-to-seven-year service improvement plan for the city's buses, will encourage people — especially students — to hop back on city buses.

"It's been obviously very challenging," said Lindsay Taylor, B.C. Transit manager of government relations for northern B.C., on CBC's Daybreak North.

"Student population actually makes up 50 per cent of our ridership."

She said with students still learning remotely, B.C. Transit is focusing on its future action plan and what public transportation will look like in the northern city, once students return back to campus.

Some of the improvements listed on the action plan include a new bus service to the airport, implementing additional buses to routes between the college, university and downtown as well as making sure buses are equipped with GPS so people will know when they will arrive.

"So we're really excited to welcome those students back on campus in September ... and we're going to have the service to match that demand," Taylor said. "All of those are going to create a really comfortable experience ... and I think we'll start to see our ridership pop up because of that."

City council gives endorsement

The future action plan was presented earlier this week to Prince George city council which supported the proposed improvements.

"I was a super user of the [88 Westgate/89 Hart] route in my university years and spent about 20 hours a week on that bus," Coun. Cori Ramsay said during the council meeting, "so hearing that there are medium-term priority improvements coming, I think that will be such a great improvement to our community."

She said residents have been asking for a transit option to the airport for years.

"I think the airport service would probably be about a five-to-seven-year sort of a service improvement," Taylor said, "But ... it's up to council as to when they want to prioritize those improvements."

She said B.C. Transit will hear from the provincial government on April 20 about how much funding they would receive to tackle some of the proposed upgrades.

LISTEN | Lindsay Taylor talks about B.C. Transit's future action plan for Prince George on Daybreak North:

Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.