FORT ST JOHN, B.C. -- Shuttle services in Northern British Columbia are set to receive a boost from the province. $3,000,000 in funds are getting set aside to introduce, expand or continue rural shuttle services over the next three years.

The Province has funded community buses since 2017, as part of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan. In 2018, after Greyhound discontinued service in the region, the Province launched the long-haul inter-city service, BC Bus North.

The new community shuttle bus grant money is part of a $7.9-million Safe Restart grant provided this year by the federal and provincial governments. The goal of the grant is to address the need for public transportation in rural and remote northern communities.

Municipal Governments, First Nations, Community organizations and small private businesses can apply for a grant.

Applicants, including agencies that have previously received community shuttle bus funding, can seek a maximum of $100,000 for capital costs and operating costs to a maximum of $150,000. The total funding request per applicant cannot exceed $200,000.

The $3,000,000 available to applicants is funded by the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

"Northern B.C. is a vast and vibrant place with residents living in many remote and rural communities. Dependable and affordable transportation options are necessary to allow people of all ages to safely travel to access health care, services, education and employment," says Joel McKay, chief executive officer, NDIT. "Reliable transportation also plays a significant role in allowing people to attend social activities, reducing feelings of isolation and building a strong sense of community."

Northern Development Initiative Trust is an independent non-profit corporation that focuses on stimulating economic growth through investments in grassroots, community-led projects.

Created in 2004 by the provincial government, it has approved and administered more than $405 million in funding to more than 4,537 projects in central and northern B.C. communities since 2005.

Applicants have until December 23, 2021 to apply for the grant.