Our View: Reliable northern bus service a necessity

The province has to keep connections open for those who can't drive or fly.

We complain – rightly so – about the lack of reliable transit service at this end of Metro Vancouver.

But we’re still better off than many communities in northern and rural B.C. this week.

Greyhound, the last major intercity bus company in western Canada, announced it was pulling out of all its routes – except one from Seattle to Vancouver.

There’s been a bus terminal in downtown Langley City for decades now, a link for many poor working people, elderly, and those with no drivers licenses to get to and from other parts of the province.

For some, the bus route will have to be replaced by tickets on a regional airline, rides with friends or family, or in some cases, hitchhiking.

None of those options will close all the gaps, and hitchhiking is obviously more dangerous than taking the bus.

The question is whether private industry will step up to fill the gaps, or whether it will have to be government or a non-profit that offers intercity bus service.

If B.C. doesn’t want to manage the system directly, offering subsidies or tax benefits for a private operator could help.

The provincial government has already announced it is looking at going that route.

However, we have to consider that a different relationship between government and bus company will likely be needed. Some services just can’t quite squeeze out a profit, but are too useful to be allowed to left to the market.

The government may have to consider subsidies, or contracting a bus company, to ensure that B.C. residents can remain linked to one another over the vast territory of this province.

– M.C.

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