Affordable Transport Along “Highway of Tears”
Since 1969, 18 women and girls have either disappeared or have been found murdered along the Highway of Tears, though this number is believed to exceed 40, according to some sources. In order to promote the safety, well being, and peace of mind while travelling this highway, a regular bus service is being implemented and Via Rail is in talks of providing “rock-bottom fare” to those who are most vulnerable and cannot afford the typical travel costs.
The Highway of Tears
The Highway of Tears is the name given to the 724km stretch of highway 16 in British Columbia, spanning between Prince Rupert and Prince George. After investigation from the RCMP in 2007, the length of highway was increased to around 1500km, including sections of highways 5 and 97.
Regular Bus Service
Many of the communities situated along highway 16 do not have easy access to services, including healthcare. These people must travel to a different town or city to obtain these services. Having this safe and effective transport will significantly improve this situation. By the end of 2016, there will be a scheduled bus service between Prince Rupert and Prince George.
“We want to see northern communities connected with safe, reliable, and accessible transportation options; in particular, providing better and safer options for women and teenage girls,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone.
The $5, low-fare initiative from Via Rail would apply to anyone who is in most need of help – both aboriginals and non-aboriginals alike. This encompasses people who may be disabled, receiving social assistance, or simply have difficulties moving around. For example, if someone does not have enough money to travel the highway at the usual fare, hitchhiking may then become a viable option, which then makes them a vulnerable target.
The $5 fare was proposed by a Via Rail official in March 2016. This is to be offered “regardless of origin or destination along the route,” according to Michael Woelcke, general manager of remote services for the railway.