'It's very disappointing': Greyhound opts to cut some rural B.C. Interior stops
Lower gas prices, more people owning cars, economist says
By the end of May, the small B.C. Interior communities of Monte Lake, Westwold and Falkland will no longer have access to Greyhound bus services.
Earlier this week, Greyhound Canada got the green light from the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board to cut services all over B.C., citing declining ridership and financial loss.
"Greyhound states that passenger volumes for the route points it proposes to eliminate are low and do not justify the time it takes to stop," the board's report said.
"Eliminating them will enable it to reduce the duration of trips and make the service more appealing to passengers and help increase ridership."
Decreased bus service means some people will have to find other modes of transportation. That's a thought that worries Rene Talbot, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District representative for the Falkland area.
"People want to go to Vernon," he told CBC's Doug Herbert. "They're going to have to depend on friends, family, whatever, if they don't drive."
"You're going to see probably more people putting themselves at risk on the side of the highway hitchhiking," he said.
"It's very disappointing."
Lower gas prices, better roads account for decrease in ridership
UBC transportation economist Robin Lindsey said the cuts are no surprise.
"The economics are certainly becoming increasingly less favourable for continued bus service," he said.
Lindsey blames lower gas prices, higher quality roads and more people owning cars for the downturn in bus use.
"There has been a steep drop in demand since 2010. It's about 50 per cent. On some routes, ridership is below 10 people a day."
He said the number of Greyhound bus users is down on all routes, not just in low-density areas.
'Nice to have'
Bob Smith has worked and lived at Monte Lake for seven years, and though he said he doesn't often see Greyhound buses on the highway, he knows there are people in the area who need the service.
"There are people here who just don't have transportation on their own."
<a href="https://twitter.com/CBCKamloops?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cbckamloops</a> In cancelling its northern routes and changing its interior stopping points because “it can’t make money on them”, <a href="https://twitter.com/GreyhoundBus?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GreyhoundBus</a> demonstrates that it’s another business that prioritizedprofits over people’s needs.—@machambe
Even if people aren't using the service on a regular basis, Smith said it's important to have transportation in and out of the community.
"Bus service, in my experience, has always been something that's nice to have, because you know if you need it, you can go there," he said.
In the meantime, Talbot said he hopes someone in the community will step up and offer some sort of shuttle bus service to Vernon, 44 kilometres south of Falkland.
"I'm sure they could probably do really well at it."
With files from Daybreak Kamloops