In Monday night's meeting in front of city council BC Transit representatives Chris Fudge and Shilpa Panicker along with the new transit planner, Josephine Macharia told council about the future of transit in Prince George. The team went over short and long term changes to the transit system in Prince George as well as the current state of affairs. Chris Fudge stated that customer service in Prince George is high and this is a result of the good work done by the staff. Prince George transit has been characterized by some students as under par with a lack of transit options on weekends and statutory holidays. This has left students feeling stranded on campus in many situations creating a divide between UNBC and the community of Prince George. Transit has been a focus for many of the city councillors at UNBC with Lyn Hall making election promises to improve transit. Action of public transit has been slow with a 5 year plan being put in place and no action on that plan happening for two years.
In the long term transit in Prince George will have some changes, with the introduction of rapid transit lines (buses that make few stops) and frequent transit lines (buses that come every 15mins). These changes are however over the long term which could be over the ten years. In the next 5 years expect transit to expand into the statutory holidays and a increase in the hours of operation of the buses. All of these changes though planned will be based on the fiscal situation of BC Transit which has been experiencing funding challenges. Lyn Hall stated that he would like to see an earlier implementation of these short term changes sooner rather than later.
Ridership has been down over the last couple years going from 2,032,972 in 2013-2014 to 1,877,966 in 2015-2016. This decrease in ridership has made it difficult for the city and BC transit to improve the services here in Prince George. Funding from the provincial government has been frozen for the last two years and created a financial pinch for BC Transit. Prince George makes up 53.31% of the funding for public transit and the province makes up 46.69%. In order to improve the service Lyn Hall believes that the city needs to be lobbying the provincial government to get the improvements that are needed done.
It is unclear when the longer hours and the service on statutory holidays are gonna happen BC transit has been reluctant to place any time horizons on the expansion. So for the time being prepare for the same as usual with the transit in Prince George.