Employees of First Canada, the company that now has the BC Transit contract in the region, have to apply to the new provider for continued employment as it prepares to take over the service April 1.
But those who wish to continue employment have automatically been advanced to the interview stage, says an official for Pacific Western Transportation, which was the successful bidder for a nine-year BC Transit contract.
“All applicants, including those currently working for First Canada, must apply via our website to be considered for these positions. This is a system we use for the recruitment and on-boarding of all employees,” explained James Vine, a Pacific Western official based in Prince George.
“This ensures that all current employees will be interviewed/evaluated,” he added as Pacific Western prepares to staff positions in Hazelton, Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert.
Pacific Western, based in Calgary, is looking for more than 40 people, including casual/on-call drivers, in the four communities.
Aside from drivers, the search is on for mechanics, vehicle cleaners and managers.
A general manager has already been named from Pacific Western’s employee pool.
“We will also employ driver lead hands and driver trainers locally, with these positions being filled by transit drivers who drive primarily but also train or supervise other employees as part of their regular duties.
“These positions are not posted as the manager will source them from the driver pool after the fact,” said Vine.
While Pacific Western supplies drivers and support staff, buses and route scheduling remains the responsibility of BC Transit.
Vine said interviews are scheduled to begin mid-month.
Alberta-based Pacific Western Transportation was one of two companies bidding on the contract which, for the first year, has a value of nearly $3.4 million.
It ends current provider First Transit’s 11-year contractual relationship with BC Transit in the area.
Pacific Western Transportation is already an established entity in the north because it operates the Northern Health Authority’s Northern Health Connections bus service which provides patient transportation between northern communities.
There may be some integration of services between Kitimat and Terrace but what that might mean is still not known, Vine added.
This is the second time in recent years Pacific Western, a family-owned company based in Calgary has taken a northwest contract from the international FirstGroup which has First Transit as a subsidiary.
Another FirstGroup subsidiary, First Canada, was the Coast Mountains School District’s bus services provider until that contract went to Diversified Transportation, a subsidiary of Pacific Western, in 2015.
Pacific Western Transportation also operates the transit systems in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Prince George. The latter system includes the Burns Lake-Prince George and Burns Lake-Smithers Highway 16 BC Transit service.
Information provided by Pacific Western indicates it operates approximately 23 transit contracts for municipalities/government agencies in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Yukon. It was founded in 1957.