A recent proposal by Greyhound Canada to cut bus services on a route that serves the Heritage city has city council turning to the community to petition the provincial transportation board.
City council passed a motion Tuesday night during its regular meeting to send a letter to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) — an independent tribunal in B.C. established under the Passenger Transportation Act —requesting they decline Greyhound Canada’s application to reduce service on the route that services Nelson.
Route D — which runs from Kelowna to the Alberta Border via Highway 3 — was one of the services slated for elimination or reduction in service when Greyhound Canada applied to the PTB in August.
A reduction in service on this route would have significant negative implications for the city and its residents, said Coun. Michael Dailly.
He asked council to consider sending a letter opposing any reduction in service provided by Greyhound Canada, as well as soliciting the support of the Interior Health Authority and other organizations such as the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce.
“Many residents rely on Greyhound services to travel throughout the province. We know that many residents use Greyhound to access medical services, in particular those that do not have private transportation like seniors,” he said.
He added that the city is a “relatively isolated community” where people face the challenge of distance and geography, so the Greyhound service is a lifeline for many of them.
Other councillors called on the letter to be posted to the city’s website and Facebook page, with the intent of garnering further support from the community with more letters to the PTB asking it to deny the request.
Currently Route D runs east and west from Nelson every day. Greyhound Canada is applying to the PTB to reduce this service to two days per week from both the east and west routes.
A city report to council noted that, “geographically, Nelson is relatively isolated and is nestled between two mountain passes that must be crossed to get to any major centre.”
The closest large centre is Kelowna, which is a four-hour drive away.
“Residents rely on Greyhound services to travel throughout the province,” said Coun. Robin Cherbo. “Seniors use Greyhound to access medical services … and those that do not have private transportation and it is relied on as a means of general mobility for those living in poverty.”
Greyhound service in the City of Prince George is included in Greyhound Canada’s application as one of the routes whose service would be completely cut. The City of Prince George brought a resolution forward at UBCM asking the PTB to decline the application.
The Passenger Transportation Board is accepting written comments from the public with regard to Greyhound Canada as part of the application process until Oct. 13, 2017.
In its submission to the PTB, Greyhound Canada said passenger transport has been challenged by many factors, including declining ridership in rural communities and shrinking populations in some rural areas, increased competition from subsidized national and inter-regional passenger transportation services and commercial ride-sharing businesses and reductions in oil prices which have prompted more people to travel by car.
As a result, Greyhound claims that have been losing considerable amounts of money in an unsustainable manner from its intercity passenger bus operations in B.C. over the past eight years.
In all, Greyhound has applied for the permanent elimination of nine routes from its network as well as the further elimination of 27 route points and one alternative route point on existing intercity routes. The company also asked for the reduction of 10 routes, including the one servicing Nelson.
Greyhound’s operating deficit in B.C. was $12.9 million. Since a licence was written pursuant to the new PTA in 2004, the company has applied on six occasions to reduce or eliminate service in low ridership lanes and route points.
“It has done so always in the hope that each application will allow it to turn the corner and return to profitability,” read the company’s submission to the PTB.
On each occasion the application has been denied.