Private bus subsidies possible after Greyhound nixes B.C. routes
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2018 6:46PM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, July 11, 2018 2:29PM PDT
The day after Greyhound Canada announced a decision to effectively end service to Western Canada, the B.C. government says it isn't ruling out alternatives to provide service to communities in need.
On Monday, the coach bus company said all routes from Manitoba to B.C. would come to an end on Oct. 31, save for the U.S.-operated route between Vancouver and Seattle.
The company said it was losing $35,000 a day in B.C. alone, and lost $12.9 million in 2016-17 in the province. While declining ridership was the main reason Greyhound gave for the decision, the company also placed blame on "government-subsidized" routes in B.C.
B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena called the decision to cease coach bus service in Western Canada problematic.
In a statement Monday, she said many in the province's Interior rely on the service, and that at no point had the company contacted the provincial government to talk about solutions.
The following day, Trevena said one of those solutions could be subsidies to private companies.
It's an option Greyhound has asked for in the past. The Passenger Transportation Board says Greyhound previously suggested a government subsidy, and had asked to reduce service or eliminate some of its routes six times. The most recent request for a service reduction was late last year.
The province responded by launching its own bus service in the north as a pilot project, in part to protect vulnerable women in the area. Trevena says talks are underway to figure out what happens when Greyhound disappears entirely.
While Greyhound didn't get a subsidy it appears the answer for other private operators is "maybe."
"We're going to see if there's an opportunity for a private operator to come in," the minister said Tuesday.
"It's early days. We've just received notice, so I don't think we need to rule anything out."
On Wednesday, the province's Passenger Transportation Board added that it would fast-track any applications from those interested in operating commercial, intercity bus service in regions that will be impacted by Greyhound's departure.
The independent tribunal said an end to coach bus service will leave many areas without access to work, education and safe transportation. Details on the intercity bus application process are available online.
Trevena said her office got notice of the upcoming route cancellations just two hours before it was announced, and that she hasn't spoken to anyone at the company yet. She said she'll be speaking with her provincial counterparts in other affected provinces, and that it may be time for Ottawa to step in.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan