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Transportation board approves Greyhound route cuts in Northeast B.C.

Freight delivery to continue, company says
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The Passenger Transportation Board has approved Greyhound Canada’s request to eliminate passenger bus service in Northeast B.C.

In a decision released Wednesday afternoon, the board approved route cuts from Prince George to Dawson Creek, and from Dawson Creek to the Yukon border, as early as June 1.

“These routes or route segments have extremely low ridership and very large operating losses that significantly impair Greyhound’s financial viability,” the board wrote in its decision.

Greyhound must maintain a minimum four trips weekly, two in each direction, until the end of May, the board ruled. Greyhound must give a minimum of seven days notice to reduce its trip frequency, and 14 days notice of when it plans to eliminate the routes entirely.

"Greyhound is relied upon by those who currently use it," the board states.

"Immediate stoppage on these routes and route segments would endanger public safety given the harsh winter climate, inhospitable terrain, and the isolation of those living and working along these routes. By May 31, weather conditions in the province will have tempered."

At a public hearing in Fort St. John in December, the company said its ridership in B.C. has plummeted 46 per cent since 2010, leading to $70 million in losses over the last six years as it struggles to adapt to changing market conditions. Greyhound says its losing $35,000 a day on its passenger services in the province.

In the Northeast, use of the service along the Alaska Highway between Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson dropped from 18,307 passengers in 2014 to 9,647 in 2017.

In a statement, Greyhound said it will respect the timeline set out by the board. Decisions to reduce trip frequencies will be based on passenger demand with sufficient notice, the company said.

“We regret having to do this and appreciate the board’s acknowledgement of the difficult circumstances under which we’ve been operating over the past several years,” said Stuart Kendrick, senior vice president, in a statement.

Freight delivery will continue, the company said, adding it's entering into partnership agreements to continue that service.

Greyhound has proposed a Connecting Communities Fund for municipalities and First Nations that could fund bids from private operators to maintain bus service. The board, however, noted that any decision on the creation of such a fund is outside of its jurisdiction.

"These concerns have been discussed between the company, local governments and B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure," the board stated. "It is up to these parties to determine whether these discussions will continue."

A request for comment has been made to transporation ministry officials.

At the hearing in Fort St. John, political leaders and social service providers told the board that the loss of bus service in the region would hurt small businesses and vulnerable persons who rely on Greyhound for travel.

The board also approved eliminating routes between Prince George and Fort St. James, Prince George and Prince Rupert, and Prince George to the Alberta border, also effective as early as June 1. 

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Greyhound Canada

Original story:

A Passenger Transportation Board decision on whether Greyhound Canada can cut rural bus routes and reduce its service across B.C. is expected today.

Contacted this morning, both board and ministry officials said the decision is expected to be published in its weekly bulletin released later today. Both, however, were unsure of when the bulletin would be publicized.

At a public hearing in Fort St. John in December, the company said its ridership in B.C. has plummeted 46 per cent since 2010, leading to $70 million in losses over the last six years as it struggles to adapt to changing market conditions. Greyhound says its losing $35,000 a day on its passenger services in the province.

Greyhound is looking to exit Northeast B.C. entirely amid crippling losses. In the Northeast alone, use of the service along the Alaska Highway between Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson dropped from 18,307 passengers in 2014 to 9,647 in 2017.

It has proposed a provincial fund for municipalities and First Nations that could fund bids from private operators to continue bus service.

The carrier also wants to eliminate service along the entire length of Highway 16, from Prince Rupert to the Alberta border, as well as along Highway 27 to Fort St. James, and along Highway 97 from Prince George to the Peace Region.

It has also proposed to cut routes and reduce service in parts of southern B.C. 

editor@ahnfsj.ca