Greyhound Canada is proposing massive cuts to its services in British Columbia, including its route between Vancouver and Mount Currie, which takes in Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton.
A public notice was filed on Greyhound’s website this week stating that it has made an application to the B.C. Passenger Board to reduce the number of trips its buses make up the Sea to Sky Highway.
According to attached background information, service from Vancouver to Whistler Village would be cut in half, from a minimum of eight round trips per day (16 there and back) or a minimum of 56 round trips per week (112 there and back) to four round trips per day (eight there and back) and 28 round trips per week (56 there and back), respectively.
Service to Garibaldi-Squamish would likewise be cut, from a minimum of eight round trips per day (16 there and back) or a minimum of 56 round trips per week (112 there and back) to four round trips per day (eight there and back) and 28 round trips per week (56 there and back).
Pemberton’s service would fall from a minimum of four round trips per day/28 round trips per week to three roundtrips per day/21 round trips per week.
Overall, only three Greyhound routes in B.C. will remain unaffected.
In its submission to the B.C. Passenger Board as to the reasons behind cutting the services, Greyhound Canada said it had lost $14.1 million from its scheduled passenger operations in B.C in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
“This is unsustainable,” it stated in the submission.
The company said its losses were due higher costs for fuel and maintenance, reduced ridership, and “an inflexible provincial regulatory regime that does not allow the Company to respond quickly to market and economic changes and unregulated competition from Province of B.C. agencies, including BC Transit and the Interior and Northern Health Authorities.”
Overall, around 2.2 million operating miles in B.C. would be eliminated — about 25 per cent of its current service, generating savings of about $6.75 million per annum.
In a phone interview, Greyhound Canada's director of operations for Western Canada, Stephen Hutchings, said the cuts were due to low riderships on the corridors in which they had made the application for the cuts.
"The application, as it was submitted, will still preserve service to every community within the province," he said.
He emphasized that the cuts were being made to change the minimum number of buses servicing the route. At busier periods, such as during Whistler's ski season, more buses will be added.
"Absolutely. A minimum frequency would allow us to run the minimum trips required during the low times. During peak times and peak season, Vancouver to Whistler is a good example, we could run multiple times per day if demand warranted it.
Hutchings said advance ticket sales would provide the necessary information and is analized "routinely".
On Aug. 31, the passenger board refused Greyhound Canada’s request for 18 route cuts (including Vancouver to Mount Currie) and one route elimination through a different process, under the board’s Urgent Public Need category.
Considerations in the Urgent Public Need category include:
• Whether other licensees are available to provide the service to the public;
• Whether there is a real public demand for the service;
• How the urgency came to exist;
• Whether any of the urgency was due to the applicant’s delay.
In its refusal to support Greyhound’s request for Urgent Public Need to reduce the routes, the B.C. Passenger Board stated: “‘Urgent’ is relevant to the public’s need, not the applicant’s.”
In terms of Greyhound’s current request, which was submitted on Oct. 3, a spokesman for the B.C. Passenger Board said public comments are being accepted on the proposed changes on or before Oct. 17, 2012.
Once comments are received they will be forwarded to Greyhound Canada, who will have the opportunity to “comment on the comments”.
“The board will look at the materials in Greyhound’s application, the public’s comments and whatever additional comments Greyhound has and can make a decision on each route, each specific proposal and the reasons,” the spokesman said.
There are three aspects the B.C. Passenger Board considers: Whether public needs are met if service is reduced, whether approving the application or request will promote sound economic conditions in the passenger transportation business in B.C., and whether the applicant is capable of providing the proposed services.
And the potential outcomes?
“The board can approve the application in whole, it can refuse the application, it can approve part of the application, and when it does an approval it can set terms and conditions,” the spokesman said.
Comments can be sent to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board: P.O. Box 9850 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, B.C., V8W 9T5. Submissions can also be sent by fax at 250-953-3788 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you submit a comment, please identify the Vancouver to Mount Currie route by quoting application #305-12/Route S1.