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Greyhound buses to reduce services across the province, including Nelson

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
October 15th, 2012

Nelson is on list of communities across the province that may see a reduction in bus service by Greyhound Canada Transportation at 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 an interview with The Nelson Daily.

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.”

For West Kootenay towns, including Nelson and Castlegar, 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.

Tom Thomson, executive director for the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, said while only a “handful” of tourists appear to use the Greyhound bus to get to Nelson, “residents would notice the effect”.

Residents who use the service to visit family and to travel to and from Kelowna for health-related appointments might feel the pinch.

“There is always a concern when services are reduced and when people need to get in and out of the West Kootenays during winter conditions,” said Thomson.

As for positive impacts, Thomson said this reduction could also be an opportunity for companies like Nelson based-business Queen City Shuttle and Charter, which operates services between airports in Spokane and Castlegar to Nelson.

“This could open up opportunities for smaller businesses to fill the gaps,” he said.

Kendrick anticipates the passenger board will have a decision between 60 and 90 days. So the earliest the new schedule could take affect is just before Christmas, and the latest just after the New Year, he said.

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

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

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.ca or by fax at 250-953-3788.

Quote application number 305-12 Route D.

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