Greyhound Canada says it plans to continue to offer overnight delivery in northern British Columbia, even if it ends its passenger services in the region.
"We don't want to diminish our frequency. We want to have overnight service, so we would be doing everything we can to maintain those," said Peter Hamel, Greyhound's regional vice-president for Western Canada.
The company wants to end passenger service connecting Prince Rupert to Prince George and on to Valemount, as well as from Prince George north to Dawson Creek and Whitehorse.
Hamel said the company is able to cut delivery costs, if it no longer has to accommodate passengers.
"Any other option would be, at minimum, half the cost of using a bus and a driver," he said.
"It could be a van It could be third-party logistics ... we have a lot more flexibility in how to move freight than we do in how to move passengers."
Greyhound has argued a new public transit service being put into place by the province is subsidized competition that, combined with declining overall ridership, makes it impossible for them to operate a passenger service in northern B.C.
An essential service
Steve Smythe, who manages a business in Terrace that repairs transport trucks and RVs, said Greyhound's freight service is essential to his operation.
"The bus has saved our bacon and our customer's bacon many times," he said.
He often needs parts delivered from Prince George that, without Greyhound, would take days to arrive.
'Our community relies on freight delivery' - Dawson Creek mayor Dale Bumstead
"After two o'clock on a Friday afternoon, the Greyhound is the only way of getting something here, if it's critical."
Dale Bumstead, the mayor of Dawson Creek in northeast B.C., also said freight service is critical to the local business community.
"Our community relies on freight delivery and freight service," he said. "It's a big deal."
Passenger service to Edmonton and Vancouver to continue
Hamel said if Greyhound does switch to delivery-only in northern B.C., it will be following the model already in place in parts of rural Alberta, Manitoba and the territories.
"It's a model that's being done in other provinces," he said.
He also clarified that although the company wants to end passenger service between cities in northern B.C., connections to larger centres will still be in place from some locations.
"Valemount to Jasper to Edmonton, that corridor will still exist," he said.
"Prince George to Kamloops to Vancouver is still maintained [and] Dawson Creek to Edmonton is still maintained."
The request to end passenger service in parts of northern B.C. is before the Passenger Transportation Board and no changes are expected until early 2018.