Regional Transportation Enhancement Funding Awarded to 21 Recipients

The Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) is putting the findings of the 2023 Regional Ground Transportation Study to work. With funding from the Province of BC, the study was carried out from May to August 2023, and identified issues and opportunities related to rural inter-city passenger transportation in the Southern Interior of BC.

Following the release of the study, the Regional Transportation Enhancement (RTE) Funding Program was launched. The Funding Intake was open from September 18 to October 31, 2023. A total of $650,000 was available to fund projects with an end date of October 15, 2024. 

With help from the Province, the ETSI-BC RTE Funding Program provides non-repayable grants to enhance transportation plans, partnerships, technology, service communication, and seasonal connections between communities in the Southern Interior of BC. A primary focus of this funding program is on enhancing transportation opportunities in Indigenous, smaller, and more rural communities that may currently have little or no transportation access.

ETSI-BC is pleased to announce today that in the first phase of funding awards, 21 organizations across the Southern Interior of BC have been allocated over $608,000 in funding. These projects will be led by First Nations, local governments, non-profit organizations, and private enterprises that partnered with public or non-profit entities.

There are three streams under the RTE Program:

  • RTE 1 – Planning & Partnership Development
  • RTE 2 – Technology & Service Communication
  • RTE 3 – Seasonal Service Delivery / Expansion

The following summarizes the number of projects and the funding awarded by stream:

ETSI-BC Rural Transportation Enhancement (RTE) Approval Summary


         Funding Stream






Projects Approved





Funding Approved






Projects approved in this phase of the RTE Funding Program range from existing transportation service improvements or expansions to exploring opportunities for new services where there are critical gaps.  

A wide array of transportation services will be expanded or studied through these projects, including ski resort shuttles, medical and other bus services for vulnerable population groups, volunteer driver programs, carsharing, and ride-hailing.

The projects approved through this funding program will improve social and economic outcomes for communities. They will address challenges for residents related to travelling to work, medical care, and shopping, as well enhancing access to key recreation and tourism destinations in the region for both residents and visitors.

“With these approved projects, ETSI-BC will support the communities in our service area to explore and deliver transportation solutions. We are proud to support this breadth of community-led transportation projects across the Southern Interior and to be able to provide this funding thanks to the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,” said Laurel Douglas, CEO of ETSI-BC. 

“Funding transport initiatives for people to access better economic opportunities and recreational travel benefits everyone,” said Rob Fleming, BC’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “This is especially pressing in communities where people’s ability to access basic services, jobs and recreational spaces are limited by regional connectivity. That is why our government continues to support initiatives like this that make a difference in communities across BC.”

“Our shared work in rural communities revolves around both bringing services to people and bringing people to services. Those of us who live in rural places know how critical transit is for so many aspects of our wellbeing; these community-led transit projects will improve both social and economic outcomes for these communities,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development and MLA for the Boundary Similkameen. “Whether it’s for medical care, outdoor recreation, visiting loved ones, or traveling for work, this partnership between the Province of BC and ETSI-BC to expand transit options will help make life better and more affordable for us all.”

ETSI-BC APPROVED Regional Transportation Enhancement (RTE) PROJECTS as of December 12, 2023

Organization Project Name RTE Stream Funding Approved
Silver Star Resort Association Transportation Connectivity to Silver Star from Vernon & the North Okanagan RTE 1 $25,000
Arrow and Slocan Lake Community Services ASLCS Medical Bus Expansion RTE 3 $47,974
Kootenay Carshare Cooperative Air Carshare Communication Enhancement Project RTE 2 $25,000
Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association Thompson Okanagan Transportation Connectivity Engagement RTE 1 $25,000
Whitewater Ski Resorts Whitewater Ski Resort Shuttle expansion RTE 3 $65,000
Christina Gateway Community Development Association Christina Lake on the Move RTE 1 $25,000
Kootenay Employment Service Society Feasibility Study for Affordable Housing Community Shared Transportation in the Creston Valley RTE 1 $25,000
Tourism Fernie Society Planning for Future Transportation Partnership Options & Services RTE 1 $10,000
Castlegar & District Chamber of Commerce West Kootenay Regional Shuttle Feasibility Study RTE 1 $25,000
Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce Columbia Valley Transit Review and Needs Assessment RTE 1 $20,740
Next Gen Transit Bus Operator Class 2 Driver Training RTE 3 $25,200
The Castlegar and District Community Services Society Volunteer Driver Services in the West Kootenay Boundary Region: Planning & Partnership Development RTE 1 $19,250
Community Futures Central Kootenay Rural ride-hailing feasibility study RTE 1 $25,000
Tourism Golden Association Golden-Kicking Horse Connector Community Service Expansion RTE 3 $58,833
Tourism Fernie Society Local Tourism Shuttle App & E-Commerce Development RTE 2 $15,000
The District of Lake Country The District of Lake Country’s Integrated Transit Strategy: Phase 3 RTE 1 $25,000
Regional District of Central Kootenay Establishing a Values Based Approach to Governance RTE 1 $25,000
Tourism Big White Society Big White Mountain Community Shuttle RTE 3 $65,000
Tourism Golden Association GPS Vehicle Tracking and Consumer App RTE 2 $6,228
Whispering Pines Clinton Indian Band Economic Transit Planning Feasibility Study RTE 1 $25,000
Community Energy Association Lower Kootenay Band Electric Health Shuttle Study RTE 1 $25,000
TOTAL     $608,225

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