FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Passenger Transportation Board of B.C. has ruled in favour of Greyhound’s application to halt passenger bus service in Northeast B.C. as of June 1st.
Last August Greyhound Canada announced that it was planning to cut nine routes across the province, including the Dawson Creek – Whitehorse and Prince George – Dawson Creek routes. The company is also seeking to greatly reduce service on other routes in Southern B.C. after saying that many of its routes are no longer profitable.
Greyhound says that ridership on routes connecting the northern half of B.C. with Prince George has declined by 51 percent since 2010, including a 30 percent drop in the last five years.
In its ruling, the Passenger Transportation Board explained that Greyhound’s routes in the Peace Region and along Highway 16 have extremely low ridership and very large operating losses that impair the company’s viability.
“Greyhound is a for-profit company,” read the Board’s decision. “A review of the company’s financial information demonstrates that the cross-subsidization model of the past no longer holds true. There are insufficient profits on the profitable routes to subsidize its losses on these routes.”
Greyhound told the board that by eliminating 1.6 million scheduled miles in the province, it will be able to retain a remaining 3.7 million scheduled miles. “Keeping a viable inter-city passenger bus service in at least some parts of the province is preferable to no service from Greyhound.”
However, the Board also found that the public’s need would not be met if Greyhound were allowed to eliminate the four routes without adequate notice, due to the reliance on current service.
“Immediate stoppage on these routes and route segments would endanger public safety given the harsh winter climate, inhospitable terrain, and the isolation of those living and working along these routes.”
However, the Board ruled that weather conditions should improve by May 31st to a point where public safety would no longer be at risk.
During a series of public hearings on the application, Greyhound said it is losing $35,000 per day, which works out to a loss of nearly $13 million per year. The company has called on the provincial government to subsidize intercity bus travel, similar to the subsidies provided to municipal transit.