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Greyhound buses to reduce services across the province

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
October 16th, 2012

Grand Forks, Greenwood, Midway and Rock Creek may have bus services reduced or eliminated by Greyhound Canada Transportation by the end of this year.

Greyhound submitted an application to the BC Passenger Board on October 3 to reduce the minimum rate of frequency for their routes that run across BC, said Stuart Kendrick, senior vice president of Greyhound Canada, during a private interview with The Boundary Sentinel.

The decision comes as a result of a $14.1 million loss between March 2011 and March 2012 for scheduled passenger operations in BC. The company blames higher fuel and maintenance costs, reduced ridership, unregulated competition from provincial agencies like BC Transit and from Interior and Northern Health Authorities as well as an “inflexible provincial regulatory system that doesn’t allow the (Greyhound) to respond quickly to market and economic changes”, according to a report set out in their application.

“We are only looking at frequency changes and not abandoning any corridors,” said Kendrick. “Ridership on rural routes has been on a decline for some years.”

According to their application, a reduction of about 2.2 million operating miles in BC would mean a $6.75 million savings.

“We want to get these miles reduced as soon as possible,” said Kendrick. “Once we start turning a profit again we can reinvest in our terminals, our fleet and reinvest in our business.”

The proposal asks to eliminate the route frequency to 18 routes and abandon the seasonal ski schedule between Victoria and Mt. Washington Ski Resort on Vancouver Island.

Rock Creek direct routes to Vancouver and Penticton to be stopped

For Rock Creek, this application could mean the elimination of all services between Rock Creek and Vancouver and Rock Creek and Penticton. Although Rock Creek will still see service once a day on the route that Grand Forks is on.

According to the application, Route 5008 eastbound from Vancouver to Rock Creek will stop, as will Route 5024 and 5021, southbound and northbound between Penticton and Rock Creek. The Bridesville “route point” will also be eliminated. To travel to Vancouver, Rock Creek and Bridesville residents will have to travel the 50 kilometers to Osoyoos.

“In the 12 month period July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012, a total of 74 passengers (.2/day) originated in Bridesville and a total of 181 passengers (.5/day) were destined to Bridesville,” stated a report to the transportation board.

Grand Forks reduced to once a day, seven days a week

For Grand Forks, Greenwood and Midway, the daily service will continue between Kelowna and up to Fort McLeod every day. What will be eliminated is the secondary run that comes through three times a week.

“We still want to be there, we just want to reduce the miles and frequency we have now,” said Kendrick.

“This is just another thing to lose,” said Grand Forks resident and Greyhound bus rider Shawna Schuh. “We are losing the rail system too. They are just trying to kill the small towns … Not only will this impact those who can’t drive, but it will impact businesses as well because people can’t ship as frequently as they do now by Greyhound.”

Schuh uses the Greyhound bus to go to doctor’s appointments in Kelowna and Vancouver. As someone with a chronic illness she finds it easier to ride the bus than drive herself, especially in the winter or if she has to go into Vancouver where she doesn’t like to drive in the traffic.

“Now I might have to stay overnight at my own expense,” said Schuh of how the reduction will impact her.

“This is going to impact a lot of people – not just the low income,” said Schuh. “I guess our senior citizens will have to hitch a ride on the side of the highway.”

As for sitting down and taking it, Schuh will do no such thing. When Greyhound proposed their last reduction several years ago, she was leading the charge in protesting the change and managed to save some of the route.

She sees the reduction as a slippery slope to a complete elimination of the route.

To view the full application and route details visit: http://www.greyhound.ca/ServiceAlerts/Default.aspx.

Comments about the application are being accepted until Wednesday, Oct. 24. They can be submitted to the BC Passenger Transportation Board at ptboard@gov.bc.caor by fax at 250-953-3788. Quote application number 305-12 Route C Rock Creek.

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