UBCM calls on province, feds to come up with services to replace Greyhound

WHISTLER -- B.C. municipalities are asking the provincial and federal governments to come together to find transportation solutions to replace Greyhound when the company ends its service in the province later this year.

Elected officials from across B.C. unanimously endorsed a special resolution at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference on Wednesday that calls on the two levels of government to work with local governments, public regulators and operators to come up with "new, affordable and coordinated transportation services" that will keep people and freight moving.

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"The loss of bus service will be significant for B.C. communities -- especially those in more rural and remote places, where there are no airports or other modes of transportation," said Art Kaehn, chair of the Fraser-Fort George Regional District, speaking to delegates on behalf of the UBCM executive.

"Local governments have expressed concern on behalf of passengers and businesses who have come to rely on Greyhound."

After making a series of service cuts, Greyhound announced last month that it will pull out of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northern Ontario on Oct. 31, saying it had suffered millions of dollars in losses from a 46-per-cent drop in ridership since 2010.

As a short-term solution, B.C. Transit, with funding from the province, is operating B.C. Bus North as a pilot project, with buses running twice weekly on routes in northern B.C.

Lillooet has proposed, in a resolution, reopening the former B.C. Rail corridor between North Vancouver and Prince George to passenger trains, in an effort to mitigate the loss of Greyhound.

McBride and the Central Kootenay Regional District have also put forward resolutions that mention Greyhound -- one about addressing the "vital passenger transportation void" in northern B.C. and the other regarding patient transfers in rural areas.

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