Province has no plan to replace Greyhound in Northern B.C.

With fewer than two months of Greyhound service left in the region, there is no alternative lined up to take over service this June, and the B.C. minister of transportation's recent trip to the region leaves more questions than answers.

Transportation minister calls absence of bus service after Greyhound leaves 'extraordinarily worrying'

Greyhound passenger service in Burns Lake is along one of the cancelled routes in Northern B.C. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has no answers about what will happen when Greyhound service pulls out of Northern B.C.

After a series of meetings with regional mayors, she says there is growing concern there are no solutions in place once the last bus runs in May.

"We are likely to have a gap there which is extraordinarily worrying," she said. "How are we going to deal with that gap in service?"

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says she's worried there are no apparent solutions to the loss of Greyhound service in Northern B.C. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Trevena has been searching for answers by meeting with mayors along Northern B.C.'s highways this week. With fewer than two months left before Greyhound pulls service from the region, there are still no applications with the Passenger Transportation Board to fill the need that the bus service's departure will leave. 

Trevena says her meetings in Smithers, Prince George and Dawson Creek have left her with a long list of ideas to consider.

"Whether it is looking at some sort of car sharing opportunities, to commercial opportunities, to subsidies for systems," she said, "I don't think there's going to be any one size that will fit the whole problem."

Trevena says she does not think there will be a solution in place in time for June. 

Isolated communities will be impacted

Northern Rockies Regional Mayor Bill Streeper is equally as doubtful that there will be any public transportation in and out of this part of the province as of June. He lives in the far northeast corner of B.C. in Fort Nelson.

Greyhound Canada was granted permission in February to cease all service in Northern B.C. as well as its routes between Victoria and Nanaimo. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

"There's a lot of work that's got to be done by very few people to get this to go, and I can see the northern part of the province going for quite a while without a reliable bus service."

Streeper says for many in Fort Nelson Greyhound is their only link to the rest of B.C., adding he's most worried for the elderly and those living in poverty. 

"If you don't have a private vehicle or somebody with you, you're just not going to go," he said.

Low ridership led to Greyhound leaving

Greyhound will no longer have passengers routes from Prince Rupert to Prince George, Prince George to Valemount, Prince George to Dawson Creek and Dawson Creek to Whitehorse after the end of this May. (OpenStreetMap Contributors, CartoDB)

B.C.'s Passenger Transportation Board approved Greyhound's application this February to eliminate seven routes, mostly in northern B.C., by the end of May this year. The company said it's losing close to $35,000 a day due to low ridership on certain routes. 

Greyhound's application said it has lost roughly $70 million over six years and the routes it chose to eliminate have been operating with the biggest losses. Those include Prince Rupert to Prince George, Prince George to Valemount, Prince George to Dawson Creek and Dawson Creek to Whitehorse via Fort Nelson.

In its ruling, the Passenger Transportation Board said it "cannot compel a private business to sustain significant financial losses indefintely."

About the Author

Audrey McKinnon

Audrey McKinnon works as a reporter, associate producer and arts contributor for CBC Daybreak North in Prince George, B.C.