The British Columbia government says thousands of people have used an intercommunity bus service across northwestern B.C. in the 19 months since it was launched to offer safe, affordable travel along Highway 16, the so-called Highway of Tears.
The Ministry of Transportation says the BC Transit-operated route has more than doubled its ridership over the last six months, climbing to 12,000 riders from about 5,000 who were using the service at its first anniversary.
Provincial and federal funds of $7.3 million helped launch the program, which is also funded on a cost-shared basis by the more than a dozen communities along the roughly 700-kilometre highway between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
A community vehicle program, linking tiny, outlying communities to the Highway 16 route has also gained in popularity, and a news release from the province says the First Nations driver education program linked to the bus service has expanded opportunities for Indigenous job seekers.
On Thursday, the Transportation Ministry said the bus service it implemented to make up for Greyhound cuts in the north served 900 riders in just over two months of operation.
Eighteen women have been murdered or have disappeared along Highway 16 and its feeder routes since the 1970s.