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Greyhound service cuts approved

Sea to Sky among routes affected by cuts approved by B.C. Passenger Board



Greyhound Canada has succeeded in its application to cut services in British Columbia, including its route between Vancouver and Mount Currie, a route that also covers Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton.

The B.C. Passenger Board has set a special condition of a 21-day public notice requirement to the changes to the Vancouver/Mount Currie route, according to the decision posted to its website. No other route being reduced was granted the 21-day notice period.

Fifteen other routes have been similarly affected throughout the province. Greyhound submitted its application on Oct. 3, 2012 and the decision was released on Jan. 16, 2013.

The passenger board received 40 public comments objecting to the application, including comments from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the District of Squamish, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the Village of Pemberton.

According to Greyhound Canada's application, service from Vancouver to Whistler Village will be cut in half, from a minimum of eight round trips per day to four, and from 56 round trips per week to 28. Service to Garibaldi-Squamish would be cut by the same amount, while service to Pemberton would fall from four round trips per day to three.

"It is a disappointing decision, and it's unfortunate that there was not more of a public process and that we could not be part of the process more," said Whistler's Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

She said two user groups were impacted, those coming up from Vancouver to enjoy the resort that could make arrangements with other bus lines, and those commuting to work from Squamish. The latter were more deeply impacted as the first commuter buses will arrive at 9:30 a.m.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy spoke of the decision in his report at the village's council meeting on Jan. 22. He said that the submissions outlining the village's concerns "had been considered, but certainly not acted on."

"It's obviously a concern, it just puts increasing responsibility on us as a community," he said.

In its submission to the B.C. Passenger Board, Greyhound Canada said it had lost $14.1 million from scheduled passenger operations in B.C in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. "This is unsustainable," Greyhound stated in October.

The passenger board stated in its decision on Wednesday that commuting was the main issue cited by individual transit users, and that there were regional transit alternatives for Pemberton residents.

As for Squamish-Whistler commuters, "(Greyhound) states that it will keep operating four daily schedules in each direction. The Board notes that schedules operate throughout the day, and that schedule 5078 arrives in Whistler (from Vancouver and Squamish) at (9:30 a.m.)."

Profitability remained the main issue for Greyhound, according to the board's decision: "The Board finds that ridership on this route is not sufficient to sustain the current minimum route frequency established for the GCTU service."

Whistler and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) were singled out by Greyhound when they responded to submissions from both: "...Whistler nor the (SLRD) would directly acknowledge that they are advocating that a private sector company should be forced to operate money-losing commuter bus services that had been previously been provided by BC Transit.

Wilhelm-Morden, contrary to Greyhound's statement, said the RMOW recognizes Greyhound is a private business. "(Advocating for Greyhound to operate a money-losing service), that's exactly what we're not doing. We had put out an offer to meet with Greyhound and be part of the solution and that was declined by the B.C. Passenger Board," she said.

On Monday, Jan. 21, Greyhound staff asked to meet RMOW staff to discuss the new schedule and determine what times will be the most appropriate.

A spokesperson for the RMOW said staff look forward to the meeting and want to focus the discussion on arrival and departure times for Whistler, especially for routes from the south.