FFGRD urges rejection of Greyhound quest to end passenger service in northern B.C.

Fraser-Fort George Regional District directors are urging the Passenger Transportation Board to reject Greyhound Canada's application to end passenger service in northern B.C.

"While we completely understand that Greyhound is a for-profit company and has the right to make decisions in the best interest of the company and its bottom line, we implore the Board to consider its mission when review this application," FFGRD chair Art Kaehn said in a letter to the PTB.

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"The elimination of these routes leave many within our region without other viable transportation therefore furthering the isolation and lack of services for our rural residents."

Greyhound said it lost $12.9 million on its passenger operations in British Columbia during the last fiscal year. Its freight carrying service made up $8.3 million, leaving the company $4.6 million in the red.

In part, Greyhound wants to end service along the entire Highway 16 corridor, from Prince Rupert to Valemount, and along Highway 97 to the Yukon border as well as reduce service between Prince George and Vancouver.

The company cited subsidized competition from Northern Health and B.C. Transit for the decline in passenger volumes. But Kaehn suggested poor service from Greyhound is the real culprit.

"If Greyhound was serious about improving ridership, it may want to look at its schedule," he said. "All buses originating in Prince George and travelling north, east and west leave late in the evening, and travel through the evening."

He said only those who meet strict criteria are allowed to travel on the Northern Health bus, which is for people who need transportation to out-of-town medical appointments, and is available only one to three times per week.

Further, he said B.C. Transit's service from Prince George to Smithers operates three days per week between the two communities, "and is more intended to serve as an inter-city transit to transport people between the smaller centres like Smithers and Burns Lake as opposed to long haul travel."

The deadline for written submissions to the PTB was Friday.

PTB director Jan Broocke said the submissions will be passed on to Greyhound for comment from the company. Once that's done, she said all will be forwarded to a PTB review panel who will decide whether to have public meetings or written hearings or a combination of the two.

Broocke was unable to say Tuesday how many comments have been submitted.

"We don't share the comments received other than with the applicant and if they're discussed in the decision," Broocke also said.

Greyhound is hoping for a decision by the end of this year.

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