Nova Scotia

Intercity bus fares, routes to be set by N.S. minister

Nova Scotia has introduced legislation that will give the Minister of Transportation the authority to regulate intercity bus service and make it easier for such companies to run their businesses without as much red tape.

Maritime Bus Service set to start rolling Dec. 1

Nova Scotia has introduced legislation that will give the Minister of Transportation the authority to regulate intercity bus service and make it easier for such companies to run their businesses without as much red tape.

Maurice Smith, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, tabled a bill Friday that would change the Motor Carrier Act to remove intercity bus service from the control of the Utility and Review Board.

"The intercity bus service act means bus operators will be able to make timely, reasonable changes to tarrifs, schedules and routes without incurring the cost of hiring a lawyer and attending a UARB hearing," Smith said.

Smith said the change would give bus companies more flexibility to respond to market changes and demand.

He said the Utility and Review Board, which will retain responsibility for charter, commercial vehicles and school buses, agreed with the changes.

Maritime Bus Service, which will take over intercity bus service in the Maritimes from Acadian Bus Lines on Dec. 1, lobbied for the change.

Mike Cassidy, the president of the Maritime Bus Service, said he's hoping the service will carry 250,000 people each year.

"Our marketing strategy is, 'Let's go big.' Let's tell the marketplace that we're here. We want to encourage the marketplace to jump on our bus," he said Friday.

"Our feeling is when the marketplace sees the new frequencies and the routes that we believe the budgeted ridership, our projections will be met."

Cassidy said the legislation grants his company greater flexibility in setting the frequency of certain bus routes.

He added that he plans to operate five bus runs from Halifax to Moncton, N.B., two more than what Acadian Bus Lines runs now.

Smith said the amendments are similar to moves made in provinces like Alberta, which recently removed all regulation related to fares, routes and schedules.

With files from The Canadian Press