NEWS RELEASE · 25th September 2012
Northern Health, in partnership with Diversified Transportation, is adding a new coach to its Northern Health Connections bus fleet. The new coach will replace an older 2007 coach as part of a regular refresh schedule. The fleet consists of 11 buses - six coach buses for long haul routes and five mini buses for short haul routes - that transport northerners to out of town health care appointments.
The new coach bus includes many of the same features as the others in the fleet, including extra leg room, room for up to four wheelchairs, wheelchair accessible washrooms, in-seat audio system with three satellite radio stations, oversized video screens with an on board DVD player, and a 110 volt AC outlet at each seat for medical devices, laptops and other electronics.
As safety and comfort are top priorities we have added table trays to each seat this year as well as the Prevost Aware system. This system uses advanced technology to assist in safe following distances by automatically adjusting coach speeds to maintain safe distances.
“We place a high importance on getting northerners to and from out of town medical appointments safely and comfortably. Northern Health Connections continues to be successful in providing this service at an affordable rate to residents of the north,” said Jane Lindstrom, vice president of human resources and corporate services.
“Since first being introduced by our Government, Northern Health Connections has made an enormous difference to the lives of rural residents,” said Pat Bell, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie. “Updating the fleet is a clear demonstration of our desire to bring quality healthcare to all northern residents in an affordable way."
Additionally, the new bus is seven times more energy and fuel efficient than single occupancy automobiles. This new engine delivers near-zero emissions of particulates and mono-nitrogen oxides. It would take 20 of these new coaches to produce the same amount of mono-nitrogen oxide emissions as a single 1998 coach.
“The staff at Diversified Transportation Northern Health Connections division were excited to see the new unit arrive,” said Dave Christie, regional manager for Diversified Transportation. “To be able to operate a vehicle so advanced in safety and comfort, and reduces our carbon footprint, is a win-win for everybody.”
Northern Health Connections saw a 14 per cent increase in ridership in 2011 over 2010, with more than 12,000 residents utilizing the service. 2012 is also showing strong ridership increases.
“The success of the Northern Health Connections program can be measured by the significant growth in use that was seen in 2011,” said Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George-Valemount. “It is so important that Northern residents have affordable, safe and comfortable transportation options like this when a medical condition requires them to travel."
The Northern Health Connections bus service is an affordable transportation option for residents of northern B.C. that have to leave their home communities for health care appointments. The service has been operating since 2006, and features routes along the highway 16 and 97 corridor, along with trips to Kamloops, Abbotsford and Vancouver.