Majority of B.C's Greyhound bus routes covered, but gaps remain
No provincial funding on offer to entice companies to service remaining routes
When all remaining Greyhound bus service in B.C. comes to an end on Wednesday, the transportation minister says buses will still roll down 83 per cent of the routes.
Claire Trevena says she is pleased with the number of private companies that have stepped up to cover most areas of the province.
"I anticipate that the services provided by the number of companies who have applied and will be starting operation will be a vast improvement over Greyhound with schedules that actually work for people," she said.
But eight areas of the province that are home to smaller, more remote communities will be without service when Greyhound buses leave B.C. roads:
- Cache Creek to Kamloops.
- Kamloops to Valemount.
- Valemount to the B.C./Alberta border.
- Dawson Creek to the B.C./Alberta border.
- Salmo to Creston.
- Cranbrook to the B.C./Alberta border.
- Fort Nelson to the B.C./Yukon border.
- Hope to Princeton.
Provincial officials plan to work with the Passenger Transportation Board to issue requests for expressions of interest in the remaining areas with no service, with the hope more private operators will come forward, Trevena said.
At this point, the province is not offering public dollars to help fill the remaining gaps.
"I think there will be lots of different ideas that will come forward. People will see the gaps and will operate how they think they can," she said.
Questions about service
However, Liberal MLAs from rural and northern ridings are questioning the government's math on the coverage of new bus services around the province.
They say an analysis of the number of stops that are being eliminated shows only about 45 per cent of the current routes are being maintained by new operators.
"I would like to see those numbers being justified," said Dan Davies,
"I don't think they have restored it to 50 per cent in my own opinion, certainly if you look at frequency of service."
The Liberals are calling on Trevena to release the data used to calculate how much coverage B.C. will have by bus.
The province did launch a bus service in Northern B.C. earlier this year after Greyhound routes in that region were eliminated with little notice.
B.C. Bus North is a one-year pilot project operated by B.C. Transit at a cost of $2 million. About 1,500 passengers have used the service since it started on June 4.
Fares cost $35 to $45 per trip, with two round-trips per week between Prince Rupert and Prince George, Prince George and Valemount, and Prince George to Dawson Creek/Fort St. John and one round-trip per week from Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek/Fort St. John.
The ministry is still looking at options for the future of bus service in the north, Trevena said.
"We moved in with B.C. Bus North, because there was an urgent need to fill the gap when Greyhound pulled out suddenly, so we did move in very quickly there," she said.
"But we are working with communities looking at other solutions."
All remaining Greyhound buses will stop rolling through B.C. on Wednesday. Only the route between Vancouver and Seattle will continue.