Greyhound has received permission to drastically reduce bus services in northern B.C. by almost 40 per cent.
The Passenger Transportation Board on Jan. 15 decided to approve the proposed cutbacks, allowing Greyhound to reduce service on Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert from 22 weekly trips to 14.
Greyhound also received approval to reduce route frequency between Prince George and Fort St. James from six weekly trips to one.
In considering the cutbacks, the board assessed the economic effects of reducing the service, whether Greyhound was able to provide the service and the public’s need for the service.
During a public comment period that ended on Oct. 25, 2012, the board received 16 submissions from various cities, districts and municipalities located along the Prince George-Prince Rupert corridor, including Vanderhoof.
Many submissions expressed opposition to the proposed cuts, saying the route reductions would negatively impact economic development, increase hitchhiking and further strain a region already affected by limited transportation options, according to the board’s final report.
The cutbacks by Greyhound, a private company, also go against a recommendation by the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry for more public transit options in northern B.C., especially along Highway 16, where at least 18 women have been killed or gone missing since 1969.
Across the province, Greyhound is cutting routes to generate savings of $6.75 million annually and shore up a $14.1-million loss in the last fiscal year.
Greyhound attributes the losses to factors such as higher fuel costs, competition from government-subsidized transportation and reduced passenger loads.
Prior to the cuts, ridership on Greyhound busses was abysmally low in northern B.C.
According to the company, the average passenger load on a 54-seat coach along the Prince George-Fort St. James corridor was between five and seven people per trip. From Prince George to Prince Rupert, the average was about 11 people, generating only $2.30 in revenue per passenger mile.