Nova Scotia

Viable Maritime bus service is possible: bus company

The owner of a P.E.I. bus company says he hopes to have a replacement service for Acadian Lines up and running by Dec. 1.

The owner of a P.E.I. bus company says he hopes to have a replacement service for Acadian Coach Lines up and running by Dec. 1.

Mike Cassidy, owner of Trius Tours, has submitted an application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, and says his company will file similar documents in New Brunswick on Friday or early next week.

Cassidy says he believes his company can run a profitable, self-sustaining Maritime bus service, provided provinces are willing to negotiate regulatory terms.

"We want to make sure that if we do this on Dec. 1, that we're not going to come back to the regulatory boards in April 2013, saying, 'Sorry, we misjudged we want to surrender our motor carrier rights.' We are an existing company. The line-run business can be added to our exiting infrastructure which helps the viability of this particular project," said Cassidy.

Earlier this month, Acadian Coach Lines announced it was pulling out of the region as of Nov. 30. Both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia previously turned down the bus service's requests to drop some rural routes in the Maritimes.

Acadian's parent company, Orleans Express, has said it has lost $12 million over the past eight years.

Cassidy says his replacement service would rely on smaller partners.

"It is our opinion that we want a regional solution — all three provinces are interdependent — and it's a very small marketplace to carve up," he said.

"In those areas where perhaps there is less ridership, a less dense population, we have to be able to identify small shuttle operators within the area that would like to provide the service in those market areas and bring the passengers and parcels into what we would call 'the main lines.'"

A Nova Scotia company, Ambassatours has also expressed interest in filling the gap left by Acadian Coach Lines.

However Cassidy says he's not interested in partnering with Ambassatours because the Maritime region isn't big enough to sustain two carriers.