By Vanessa Broadbent
Greyhound Canada’s announcement to pull out of several provinces including British Columbia and Alberta on Monday has local politicians worried about Oliver residents’ accessibility to the rest of the country.
Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson is calling on the NDP government to stand up for rural communities.
“This is going to negatively impact countless seniors in our region,” she said.
“Many are dependent on Greyhound for travel to medical appointments in larger centres, and they are now left with no other options.”
Mayor Ron Hovanes agrees that providing adequate transportation should be a provincial responsibility.
“The recent announcement although not surprising will have a huge impact on those that need the service the most,” he said.
“If new private sector enterprises cannot offer needed service then perhaps we need a much stronger public transit service in the rural areas. As a province, we support service in populated areas; we should also be looking at supporting rural and remote communities.”
Larson also fears the cuts will deter people from moving to her jurisdiction.
“This government seems complacent with gradual reductions in services to rural communities, over time making our province’s small towns less desirable places to live, especially as people age.
“Without a government willing to stand up for rural B.C., each and every cut and cancellation is another serious threat to our communities and livelihoods.”
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena said replacement options for the bus system are being explored.
“In the weeks and months ahead, I will be sitting down with other service providers, the private sector and local government to discuss how we can ensure people have access to safe, reliable and affordable transportation to get from one community to the next. In the meantime, I hope that other local, private operators will see an opportunity to bring a badly needed service to the parts of the province most affected by Greyhound’s decision.”
Trevena expressed disappointment that the ministry was not involved in the company’s decision.
“It’s unfortunate that Greyhound did not communicate their plans sooner. At no point did Greyhound reach out to me, or my staff, to have a conversation on solutions to keep people connected — something I would have expected, given their long history in this province.”
In February, Greyhound Canada announced cuts to many routes across the province, including Keremeos, Manning Park, Hedley and Princeton.
The stops were abandoned as of June 1.
At the time, Greyhound Canada also received approval to reduce the minimum frequency required for several routes in the Okanagan to four per week, two trips each way.
Although predictable, Hovanes said the cuts are a significant loss and the decreased runs served the South Okanagan better than no routes at all.
“Greyhound has been cutting back service to rural areas for years due to lack of ridership and profitability … Even with less opportunities for convenient scheduling it still was an available service.”
Greyhound Canada’s service in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is also being cancelled.
Only one route remains on the West Coast: Vancouver – Seattle run by USA’s Greyhound Lines, Inc. and BoltBus
All routes in Ontario and Quebec will continue unchanged, aside from the Trans-Canada service west of Sudbury in northern Ontario.