Call For The Creation Of A Connecting Communities Fund To Ensure Access To Transportation Routes For BC Rural And Remote Communities
Dec 11, 2017, 12:06 ET
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Dec. 11, 2017 /CNW/ -- Greyhound Canada is proposing a made-in-BC solution to address the growing lack of access by rural and remote communities to viable and sustainable intercity bus service, and calls on the BC Government to create a Connecting Communities Fund. Similar investments in other jurisdictions bridge the gap between smaller population centres and safe, reliable and sustainable transportation services.
Connecting Communities Fund will address rural concerns
BC's rural and remote communities require transportation connections to larger centres that provide essential health services, employment opportunities and post-secondary education. Federal and provincial governments, and large municipalities spend billions annually on urban transit services; BC's rural communities deserve transportation investments as well.
The creation of a Connecting Communities Fund will leverage existing infrastructure by linking public and private resources to provide much-needed intercity bus services. Municipalities and First Nations across BC would access the fund and seek competitive bids in an open, fair and transparent bidding process with qualified, safe and secure private sector operators who can link rural and remote citizens to regional hubs that are located on primary transportation corridors (i.e. Kelowna and Prince George).
How would Greyhound Canada benefit?
Possibly not at all. The competitive process would be open to all bidders to select the best private sector transportation provider by community. We share the belief that BC residents should have access to intercity bus transportation options, and private sector operators can ramp up quickly to provide cost-effective services.
Greyhound Canada brings decades of experience, existing infrastructure and significant expertise employing best practices that are working in other provinces and in the U.S. A proud transportation provider in this province for 80+ years, we welcome the opportunity to work with all levels of government to find viable, sustainable solutions for rural connectivity.
Greyhound Canada has filed an application with the BC Passenger Transportation Board to eliminate service on five routes in British Columbia that have experienced a 51% reduction1 in ridership, to provide a more viable, intercity bus service.
This action is regrettable but unavoidable due to a challenging transportation environment characterized by diminishing ridership, escalating costs, the rise in ride-sharing services and the challenge of competing against government-subsidized fares. Despite significant efforts over the past several years to reduce costs, as well as other measures to adapt to the market, the status quo is no longer sustainable.
Business as usual pending regulatory review and approval
Greyhound's BC operations will continue to operate normally on these routes during the regulatory process review period — we do not foresee any changes to operations in the short-term. Subject to the outcome of the PTB's review of our application we do not anticipate these changes will come into effect until 2018. We expect no impact on passenger ticketing and package transport for the remainder of this year.
Proposed route changes and routes retention
An application has been filed to:
- Discontinue service on five affected routes — Victoria to Nanaimo; Prince George to Prince Rupert; Prince George to Valemount; Prince George to Dawson Creek; Dawson Creek to Whitehorse
- To reduce the number of stops on other routes; and
- To have the option to reduce the minimum number of runs on other routes. This would provide the company with the flexibility to make frequency changes in the future to match customer demand. New entrants in the market have been granted special authorizations or amendments to accommodate this need for flexible schedules by reducing the minimum number of runs/minimum frequency requirements.
"I know that the proposed route reductions will be a difficult change for affected passengers and communities, and we deeply regret having to issue this filing. The situation has come to a head, however, and despite a long-standing series of corrective measures and discussions with policy makers, the reality is that we can no longer operate the unsustainable routes, and we are proposing changes that will make other BC routes more viable.
We are continuing our discussions regarding viable options for rural connectivity in British Columbia with the provincial and federal governments. We will continue to provide up-to-date information, signifying our ongoing commitment to our customers."
- Stuart Kendrick, Senior Vice President, Greyhound Canada.
Rationale leading to this proposed change
- Greyhound Canada has proudly provided service on BC's roadways since 1929. Since 2010 however, market conditions for intercity transportation services have become increasingly challenging:
- Since 2010, ridership on these five routes in British Columbia has dropped 51%.
- Since 2010, Greyhound's ridership in British Columbia province-wide has dropped by 46%.
- Despite a range of cost-reduction and efficiency measures over several years, factors such as urbanization, increased competition from subsidized national and inter-regional passenger transportation and ride-sharing services have led to this proposed change.
BC regulatory review process
- The application requesting route changes was filed on August 10, 2017 with the BC Passenger Transportation Board (PTB)2.
- The PTB's schedule of public meetings can be found here (page 4, PTB Weekly Bulletin).
- The Board's decision will be rendered and notifications will then be issued.
- Greyhound is committed to keeping customers informed about the proposed changes.
Customer information: 1-800-661-8747
Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GreyhoundBus
1 Since 2010
2 The BC Passenger Transportation Board ("Board") is an independent tribunal in British Columbia established under the Passenger Transportation Act.
For further information: Veronica Rivas, (778) 996-2845, [email protected], http://www.greyhound.ca
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