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Greyhound seeks to cut 11 stops in Sea to Sky

Whistler and Squamish would get one stop each, Horseshoe Bay stop would be cut completely

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Greyhound Canada wants to make more cuts to services in the Sea to Sky corridor, this time by reducing the number of stops between Vancouver and Mount Currie.

The bus company has applied to the Passenger Transportation Board to eliminate "route points" for dropping off and picking up customers throughout the region. The application was posted on the board's website on June 26. Public comments will be received until July 10.

Greyhound wants to eliminate 30 stops on 11 routes in British Columbia. Of those 30 cuts, 11 are on the Sea to Sky corridor's S1 route. Signs about the changes went up in Greyhound depots around the region on June 27.

Greyhound wants to eliminate route points at Horseshoe Bay and Sunset Beach in West Vancouver, Lions Bay and Furry Creek.

In Squamish, there would be one currently unnamed general stop for the community, with stops in Dentville, Garibaldi Highlands and Brackendale being axed.

In Whistler, there would be one currently unnamed general stop in the community, with Function Junction, Twin Lakes, Whistler Creek, Whistler Village, Alpine Meadows and Emerald Estates being cut.

The other communities, including Pemberton and Britannia Beach, are not impacted.

"Wow, I guess I am in a little bit of shock. There have been systemic cuts to Greyhound's services over the last few years," said Squamish-Lillooet Regional District chair Patricia Heintzman.

"To have Greyhound doing this is unfortunate. On the one hand, you want it to be profitable but on the other it's a disservice to residents in the region. It's hard not to sympathize with them but it is death by a thousand cuts. There is very little notice time to make a response. They don't get public opposition because no-one has enough time."

Heintzman said the Passenger Transportation Board needed to respect the communities impacted by ensuring more notice is given, adding this was the "fourth or fifth cut" she'd seen since entering local politics almost eight years ago.

And, she noted, the SLRD has spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on pullouts for bus use on Highway 99.

"If there is further elimination of service then of course we're concerned about that but it's not really clear if that is actually going to happen," said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

Whistler Council passed a resolution on Tuesday to send a submission to the B.C. Passenger Transit Transportation Board opposing the proposed changes.

"I think it would be very ugly for us," said Councillor Jack Crompton of the changes. "This is not good for Whistler."

Squamish Mayor Rob Kirkham said: "District of Squamish staff have had no input into proposed changes by Greyhound since the Transportation Board approved the service level cuts last year. We have not been asked for input on these further cuts, but will be responding during the comment period to express concern on any further reduction in regional transit service."

Grant Odsen of Greyhound said: "We are doing this to bring the licences we have to the same level as other licences in the province... Ninety-five per cent of Vancouver-Squamish-Whistler customers are served by this and will get better service."

In its application to the passenger board, Greyhound referred to route cuts made throughout the province in March this year, stating that they would not be cut further:

"(Greyhound Canada) has determined that a minor 'clean-up' of its BC Transportation Licence is required so that its BC operating licence and its actual scheduled operations in the province more align. Further, so as to not have to file more than one 'clean-up' application, GCTU has undertaken a review of all its BC licenced routes and identified 15 route points for elimination where passenger traffic is either minimal or non-existent."

The company also referred to its introduction of their streamlined Greyhound Express service on three routes in B.C., including Vancouver-Whistler.

Jan Broocke, the director of the Passenger Transportation Board, said in an interview that public comments are welcome until Wednesday, July 10.

"The application removes the requirement that Greyhound must go to thoseroute points, but they can also increase the service as they need to," Broocke said.

"On the S1 route they will still have to stop somewhere in the resort and in Squamish but they will decide where the pick-up points are."

Public comments can be sent to the Passenger Transportation Board until July 10. Quote "application 142-13 and route S1". Address: Passenger Transportation Board, PO Box 9850 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, B.C., V8W 9T5, fax: 1-250-953-3788, or email: ptboard@gov.bc.ca.

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