bus-cassidy_220x124_1

Mike Cassidy, owner of Maritime Bus, says transfer times are currently too tight. (CBC)

The owner of the new Maritime Bus company plans to make changes to the schedule in 2013, which could include additional service to the northern part of New Brunswick.

Mike Cassidy says customer ridership and parcel business has been good during his first month of operation across the Maritimes, including Miramichi.

"The way the Miramichi picked up for what we call the busy season, and I hope it stays this way for January, February — it was tremendous, the response," he said.

"I hope, later on this month, first part of February when I'm in northern New Brunswick, sitting down at what I'm going to call town hall meetings, if I could duplicate the response in those areas, compared to the Miramichi, I think we're going to have a line run service up there."

Cassidy also plans to stagger departure times in the coming weeks to allow more time for transfers. They are currently too tight, which has led to chain reaction delays and a lot of stress and frustration for customers and staff, he said.

He expects to add a stop or two in downtown Fredericton as well.

"It's not that we need a terminal. We just need a spot downtown that we could stand, let's say, be in, sheltered that when the bus arrives, we could jump on if we have a ticket. If the bus is coming in to Fredericton, they could drop us off downtown. We're also going to be dealing with St. Thomas and UNB — I was on campus Saturday — to have that curb-side drop-off/pick-up."

An announcement about additional stops could be made as soon as next week, Cassidy said.

P.E.I. accident 'frustrating'

Meanwhile, Cassidy is defending his company's safety-decision making after a bus blew over on Prince Edward Island on Dec. 30, causing several of the 33 passengers to suffer minor injuries.

"We did not operate our Maritime Bus service in the morning" because of the storm, he said.

"But I was in New Brunswick, on the road, looking at the conditions, talking to Nova Scotia, talking to Prince Edward Island. We made the right decision in my mind to continue service in the afternoon."

He says the wind had died down in Charlottetown before the bus departed. "Things seemed very good in Charlottetown."

But by the time the bus got to the Confederation Bridge, the bridge was closed to high-sided vehicles, due to high winds.

The bus had turned around to head back to Charlottetown when it tipped over near Summerside.

"In the transportation industry, you worry constantly. You make your decisions — safety and compliance comes first. I’ve spoken to customers, everybody was all set to go, there was nobody wanting to turn back, the bridge was open, we did the best we could," said Cassidy.

"Very, very frustrating for myself."

Maritime Bus started operations in December, after Acadian Lines shut down its service. Acadian officials said the company had lost millions of dollars providing service in the Maritimes and couldn't make a profit in the region.