The Nelson Greyhound route has been slated as one of 16 across BC facing reductions in service.
Higher fuel and maintenance costs, reduced ridership and “an inflexible provincial regulatory regime” are some of the reasons which lead to a $14.1 million loss last year for the company, which they have called “unsustainable.”
“The routes mentioned in the application were chosen simply because of the ridership on the routes, or perhaps I should say, the lack of ridership on the routes,” said regional manager for Greyhound Canada Grant Odsen. “As you have fewer people on a bus that needs to go further you have a loss position on the route.”
While Odsen couldn’t speak to trends across Canada, he said it is obvious things need to change in BC.
Part of the company’s losses are being attributed to the unregulated competition from government agencies like BC Transit and the introduction of the health connections bus service under contract to Interior Heath.
The Passenger Transportation Board is accepting submissions from the public on the proposed changes, which would result generate yearly operating savings of approximately $6.75 million.
But Odsen said it is hard to know how much impact public input will have on the final decision.
“Certainly the board reviews every letter they get and they have to make a determination on how much weight they give to it given what is said and how much response they get from any particular area,” he said. “It is not something Greyhound has any involvement in other than once the public comment period expires on October 24, then the board provides that information to us. We are given a week to respond to the comments made and to clarify our position on any of the points made.”
Odsen said changes are necessary for service to continue in BC. And while he was unsure of all the possible options for Greyhound, he said if they are unable to recover some losses, the company may have to pull its service completely from the province.
“Ultimately the final option would be ‘I’m sorry we’re no longer able to do business in British Columbia’ and turn our license back in the Passenger Transportation Board,” he said.
“That’s obviously something we don’t want to do, that’s why we’re going through this reduction application process. We would like to continue to do business in British Columbia and there is a need for our service, albeit in a different form than what you currently see operating now.”
The proposed changes to Nelson would see the Greyhound stop in Nelson seven times a week instead of the current 10.
To send a letter to the Passenger Transportation Board email firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 250-953-3788. Quote application 305-12 Route D.