Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad and Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond say the NDP government must take action to ensure that Greyhound keeps running in northern B.C.
Greyhound Canada has recently filed an application with the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board to discontinue passenger service on five routes, including their daily route through Burns Lake.
In a statement released last week, the Liberal MLAs call on B.C.’s transportation minister Claire Trevena to “immediately sit down with Greyhound officials and find a solution.”
Rustad says inaction is not an option.
“Trevena can’t just throw her hands up and say it’s not her problem,” he said. “People in indigenous communities, especially elders, women and youth, rely on safe transportation, as do seniors in Fraser Lake and all along the corridor.”
Bond said northern B.C. residents rely on Greyhound, particularly during the winter season to travel safely between communities for a variety of reasons.
“No service will be devastating to them – particularly seniors – and leave them with few options,” she said. “I have already had constituents calling and emailing me expressing their significant concern.”
“This isn’t the first time the company has threatened to discontinue routes, but solutions were found to keep the service operating until now,” she continued. “It’s incumbent on the minister to get Greyhound in a room, share the concerns of northern British Columbians and do that immediately.”
“If the complete cancellation of services is allowed to happen, an entire region of the province will have very few safe transportation options,” she added.
Minister Trevena released a statement shortly after saying she was “deeply concerned” by Greyhound’s announcement to discontinue services.
“As an independent body, the Passenger Transportation Board is required to consider this application and render their decision based on the service needs of these communities, as well as the viability of Greyhound’s business along the route,” she said. “We will follow this application closely and look forward to the Passenger Transportation Board’s review and its final decision.”
“While we await the decision of the board, we will work with local governments to explore all options to support affordable transportation in northern B.C., including examining how other jurisdictions have successfully preserved rural bus services,” she added.
Since June, a bus service has been connecting Burns Lake to Prince George and Burns Lake to Smithers three times per week, charging $5 per ticket. This service is part of the province’s $6.4 million Hwy. 16 transportation action plan, which encompasses transit, community vehicles, First Nations driver education, webcams and bus shelters.
A total of 57 employees will be affected when Greyhound discontinues services. Meanwhile Greyhound’s passenger services are expected to continue to operate normally until early 2018.