Yukon should help save northern bus service, says former Greyhound driver

'I like the people along the road, and I don't want to see them left behind,' says Jim Adams. Greyhound plans to cancel its routes in northern B.C. and Yukon.

'Greyhound service, in a way, is a lifeline,' says Jim Adams, who drove busses for 30 years

Jim Adams, a retired Greyhound driver, believes that the bus service from Dawson Creek, B.C., to Whitehorse is a 'lifeline' for the communities along the way. (CBC Whitehorse )

A retired Greyhound driver believes the bus system in northern B.C. and Yukon is an essential service to people living in northern communities, and he wants the Yukon Government to help keep it going.

Jim Adams recently took a Greyhound from Vancouver to Whitehorse in order to express his concerns to the Yukon Government about the future of northern bus routes.

Greyhound announced in August that it was applying to the B.C Passenger Transportation Board to end all service north of Prince George, B.C., shutting down the busses that connect Dawson Creek, B.C. to Whitehorse.

"Greyhound service, in a way, is a lifeline," said Adams.

A former school teacher, Adams drove Greyhound buses on Christmas and summer holidays for 30 years. He mostly drove routes in southern B.C., and up to Prince George, B.C., but has also driven to Yukon.

Adams said he spoke to an executive assistant to Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn on Tuesday about his concerns.

Adams would like to see the territorial government subsidize Greyhound's service to Yukon and northern B.C., or see the government implement its own bus service to replace Greyhound.

"I like the people along the road, and I don't want to see them left behind," said Adams. He believes northern communities have a right to public transportation.

Not considering subsidy, Yukon gov't says

A representative from the Yukon government, however, said the government does not consider Greyhound an essential service, and is not currently considering a subsidy for the company. The government is also not considering implementing its own bus system to replace Greyhound. 

Adams said he is also hoping to speak with transportation officials in Victoria and Vancouver about the issue.

Peter Hamel, the Greyhound Regional Vice President for Western Canada, said the northern routes are being cancelled because of low ridership, particularly along the Yukon corridor. The company had reduced services to three days in and three days out of Whitehorse, hoping to increase the numbers of riders, but Hamel says they are still seeing a steady decline.

Hamel said the company has been in talks for years with various levels of government about creating a transportation subsidy, but that has been unsuccessful. 

The Greyhound bus station in Whitehorse. The company is waiting for the go-ahead to cancel its northern passenger service. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Another highway of tears?

One of Adams's major concerns is seeing the Alaska Highway through B.C. and Yukon become another Highway of Tears, because no one is servicing the communities along that road.

"There are parallels between the Highway of Tears and [Yukon], and all you have to do is go into a Greyhound station and take a look at the missing people," said Adams.

Hamel said they expected a decision from the B.C Passenger Transportation Board by the end of January, on whether the routes would close. 

"It's going to be business as usual until the decision's made," said Hamel.

If the board does terminate all northern routes in B.C. and Yukon, customers can expect service to cease within two months of the announcement, according to Hamel. 

However, Greyhound is looking at partnering with a third party company in order to continue freight delivery to the north.

"We are certainly in a position to be able to maintain the courier product, seemingly without interruption," said Hamel.

Greyhound won't say who it might partner with to continue the freight service.

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