Operating grants available for inter-city bus and regional airport sectors

Hillary Johnson

BC Premier John Horgan recently announced $27.2 million in operating grants for both inter-city bus and regional airport sectors. The money will be split with $10.7 million available to inter-city bus companies and the remaining $16.5 million for regional airports.

Operators can apply for these grants immediately. Horgan stated that these sectors have been hit particularly hard during this time and praised them for being resilient, meriting financial support because of how important they are in moving people throughout the province. Prince Rupert airport manager Rick Leach says he was relieved to hear the news.

"We probably lost 80 to 90% ridership over the last year, so this airport, in particular, we survive off the scheduled commercial flights. The private aircraft that land here does not provide the revenue required to keep this airport running. I have been told the funds will be dispursed by March 31st. For my particular situation, we will use the funds to get a better financial footing. We have a debt that needs to be serviced with the airport's redevelopment. It was a substantial project of $7 million."

Leach also expressed excitement over the resumption of daily Air Canada flights to and from Vancouver on June 22nd and that flights are now available for booking. Rob Fleming, Minister for Transportation and Infrastructure, noted that inter-city buses often operate at a 95% reduction in ridership, which contributed to the government's rationale to provide the grants.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in a written statement that access to transportation in the north is a priority for this government. CFTK reached out to the Ministry of Transportation to identify specific bus companies in the Northwest that would qualify for this grant but did not receive confirmation before deadline. However, the Ministry staff have reached out to all eligible airports and invited them to apply for the grants.

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