British Columbia

Bus drivers in Okanagan push for new route as Greyhound leaves B.C.

The union representing transit drivers in Kelowna, B.C. is pushing for a bus service from Vernon to Penticton to ease the loss of Greyhound routes in the Okanagan.

All but one passenger bus and freight services in B.C. will be cancelled by the end of October

All but one Greyhound passenger bus and freight services will be cancelled by the end of October in B.C. (CBC)

The union representing transit drivers in Kelowna, B.C. is pushing for a bus service from Vernon to Penticton to ease the loss of Greyhound routes in the Okanagan.

Greyhound announced earlier this year that it will discontinue all its routes in Western Canada in the fall.

"Presently, the way they have it set up, it will be three complete separate buses if not more [to do the trip between Vernon and Penticton]," said Scott Lovell, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1722.

That makes what should be roughly a two-and-half-hour journey several hours longer, he told Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South.

Penticton is about 115 kilometres south of Vernon.

"In an environment where we are trying to get people out of their cars and trying to connect communities, it only makes sense to make it easy for them to do that," he said.

Greyhound leaving

In other areas of the province, Greyhound's impending departure has left customers concerned about how they're going to get around the province.

The buses stop at 61 communities across B.C., reaching some out-of-the-way places without airports or other methods of transportation.

In Kelowna, there is already a link between Greyhound and the buses. Transit buses in the area are operated by First Canada, which is owned by Firstgroup PLC, which also owns Greyhound.

As drivers, Lovell said the fact that Greyhound is packing up does not affect their desire to relaunch a route.

The idea for the new bus route came from the union members, Lovell said, with job loss being one of the factors in the push.

"Hopefully, if the politicians like [the idea] and B.C. Transit like it, the companies like it, then it's something that could come to fruition," he said.

With files from Daybreak South.

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