Greyhound’s proposed cuts to service through the Kootenays have been approved.
A decision by the BC Passenger Transportation Board will mean a reduction to four trips per week through Nelson (two in each direction). Currently Greyhound runs 14 trips per week (seven in each direction).
The cut accompanies similar reductions, and some route eliminations, across the province. The board’s rationale for its approvals is that “Greyhound’s ridership has declined by 30 per cent over the past five years and 46 per cent since 2010. It is losing about $35,000 per day in B.C. Over the last six years, its financial losses in B.C. total about $70 million dollars. Routes approved for elimination typically have low ridership and large operating losses. Greyhound can no longer subsidize losses on unprofitable routes with revenue from the more profitable routes.”
The board approved the elimination of nine routes in the north and central interior of the province.
“Greyhound needs greater operational flexibility to implement its business model,” the decision states. “It is a for-profit transportation company that receives no subsidies and it must, at times, compete with transportation companies that receive substantial subsidies.”
The competing company in the Kootenays, according to the decision report, is BC Transit. On the Greyhound-traveled highways in the Nelson area, BC Transit runs several trips per day between Nelson and Castlegar.
“Greyhound reports that it faces subsidized competition and provided website links to illustrate increasing services by B.C. Transit throughout the province including such areas as the Okanagan, Boundary, West and East Kootenays.”
The board agreed with Greyhound that the route between Kelowna through Nelson to Alberta has low ridership and is a money-loser for the company.
Greyhound’s break even passenger revenue per mile (PRM) is $7.09. The decision report shows the PRM for the eliminated northern routes to be considerably lower than this but does not list the PRM for the route through Nelson.
Mayor Deb Kozak said she is disappointed in the decision.
“I never got a chance to look at what their stats were, their usage levels,” she said. “If they were going to make these dramatic cuts in service I think they should have shared their stats with people and considering Nelson is a hub, I think that’s a shame that this happened.
“Because they are a private company, this is a tough one,” Kozak said.
She said council will be expecting direct communication from Greyhound about the changes.
The board wrote that it expects Greyhound to phase in the changes gradually.
Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall called the decision by Greyhound “unfortunate” and said there will be consultations with communities across the province to address the problem.
She said Transportation Minister Claire Trevana will meet with community groups representing riders across the province to “find some solution to this.” She didn’t know when the consultations might taken place.
Mungall added, “There are a lot of challenges” to provide bus service to and from Nelson.
Greyhound applies to cut Nelson service to two days per week (Sept. 29, 2017)