News » Whistler

Snowbus melts away without license

by

comment

Young entrepreneur wants to take on Greyhound, Perimeter again

The story of the Snowbus and its short stint ferrying bus passengers along Highway 99 is somewhat reminiscent of the little guy's fight against the giant.

This modern day scenario of the age-old tale has David as a young entrepreneur looking for business opportunities on the Sea to Sky highway, and Goliath as Greyhound Canada, trying to stop him.

This time however, Goliath won.

Complaints from Greyhound that the Snowbus was operating illegally during its four-month existence led to an investigation by the Motor Carrier Commission, the body responsible for licensing commercial transportation in B.C.

The Commission found proof the Snowbus was operating without a license, forcing the young company to suspend its services.

According to the Motor Carrier Act, companies are not allowed to provide regularly scheduled buses services where they charge individual fares unless they have an operating license.

Joktan Elbert, founder of the Snowbus, said there is no room for his business on the Sea to Sky highway because there is a monopoly on bus transportation to and from Whistler.

"The people who were doing a similar service didn't like it because they have a monopoly on it," he said.

He places the blame on Greyhound for the demise of the Snowbus.

"Thanks to Greyhound and their high-priced lawyers we were forced to shut down," he said.

"I thought, 'I'm not going to fight these guys because they're bigger than me.'"

So the Snowbus service, which started in December, came to a grinding halt on March 13.

"From Greyhound's perspective, certainly we are happy to compete in an open market, but fair is fair," said Dave Mell, the general manager for Greyhound B.C.

"It has to be legal competition."

Elbert says he will start from the beginning again and apply for a license from the Motor Carrier Commission in order to make his operations legal.

But when Mell was asked if Greyhound would oppose such a license, he said:

"We certainly will... because it's our competition. We are looking to protect our route and our revenues."

The story of the short-lived discount bus service from Whistler to Vancouver and back again began with Elbert, a 24-year-old Vancouver native who liked coming to Whistler to snowboard but found there was no fun or cheap way to travel here.

"We have the number one ski resort in North America and there is no fun way to get there and there is nothing cheap about Whistler," he said.

Add a comment