N.B. towns to fight Acadian bus cuts

Some New Brunswick residents are getting ready to fight proposed cuts to bus service in the province.

Some New Brunswick residents are getting ready to fight proposed cuts to bus service in the province.

Acadian Coach Lines wants to eliminate the route between Saint John and Bangor, Maine, which would leave many communities in the southwestern part of the province without service, including St. Stephen.

The company also wants to cut the route from Fredericton to Miramichi, which stops in communities along Route 8, and reduce the number of trips between Fredericton and Rivière-du-Loup, Que., from three buses a day to two.

St. Stephen and the surrounding communities are working on a game plan to fight for what they consider an essential service, said John Ferguson, the town's chief administrative officer.

"We need to present a united front. We are likely going to formally intervene," he said. "You cannot receive answers to your questions, unless you intervene formally.

"I think we need to understand what's really taking place here, so we can represent the public's interest and try to create a solution."

Public hearing

The New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board (EUB), which has to approve the proposed cuts, will hold a public session in St. Stephen on March 16.

Acadian Lines is scheduled to go before the board with its application the following day.

Many people in St. Stephen rely on the bus, said Ferguson.

"There's a lot of people in St. Stephen that can't get all the hospital services that are available here in Saint John," he said.

"There's a variety of reasons why they'd want to visit a family doctor or a dentist in Saint John, and if they don't have a car, they're not going to be able to get back and forth."

Acadian officials have said they want to focus on ramping up service between Halifax, Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton, increasing daily service between New Brunswick's three largest cities to four times a day.

The bus company also wants to eliminate its daily service between Kentville and Digby, N.S. and cut one daily trip between Sydney and Halifax.

The EUB has asked Acadian for detailed information about ridership and costs on the routes it proposes to drop.