The federal government's transit funding commitment comes with $90 million for BC Transit equipment, including a smartphone locator for buses and video cameras to protect drivers and passengers.
The funds announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Burnaby Thursday will speed up acquisition of new buses and allow construction of maintenance and operations yards around the province, B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone said.
A pilot project with security cameras aboard buses in Victoria and Kamloops has been successful and is expected to be rolled out across the BC Transit.
"People know they're on camera," Stone said. "For the amount of time it's been in use in these pilot locations, it's been very clear it's helped reduce the number of incidents between drivers and passengers."
Most of the money will go to new buses and bus yards, in locations to be announced in the next few months. That will include buses running on compressed natural gas, and fuelling stations for them.
"Most of what we had hoped to get done over the next seven to 10 years, we're going to be able to get done in the next two to three years," Stone said.
A popular feature for bus riders that has been tested in Metro Vancouver is the bus locator application for smartphones, which uses GPS to show how many minutes away the bus is from a stop. It's handy in bad weather, allowing riders to take shelter until the bus arrives.
"That's something we've had lots of requests from Kamloops, Prince George, Kelowna and Victoria transit systems," Stone said. "It's pricy, but with these federal funds and our ability to fully leverage every federal dollar, that's the kind of technology we're able to invest in."
Most of the $900 million federal share announced by Trudeau and Premier Christy Clark goes toward transit expansion in Metro Vancouver.