Bus cuts hurt rural passengers

Columbia-Shuswap Regional District directors to express extreme disappointment over cuts to service.

  • Nov. 2, 2012 11:00 a.m.

barb brouwer

Black Press

Columbia-Shuswap Regional District directors will write to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board expressing extreme disappointment over cuts to service.

Rural Sicamous director Rhona Martin says this is not the first time Greyhound has reduced service.

She recalls a time when residents could flag a bus on the highway and it would stop for passengers, allowing them to pay on the bus or purchase their tickets at the next station.

As well, she said, buses would stop along the highway to let passengers off near their homes.

Now, she noted, passengers have to go to a depot to buy their tickets, which is difficult for elderly people or those without cars.

And, while she realizes the buses are sometimes running almost empty, she believes scheduling the trips better would draw more people to the service.

“This is just another way of eroding life in the rural area,” she says. “If you want to keep their seniors there, and they can’t drive any more…”

Falkland director René Talbot said Greyhound buses go through Falkland at  3:30 a.m. and return at 6 p.m.

“But you can’t buy a ticket in Falkland and though they stop, they won’t even pick up freight,” he complained.

Salmon Arm director Debbie Cannon said she finds it hard to tell a business they should have more stops or more services if they can’t make it financially.

North Shuswap director Larry Morgan concurred.

“They’re operating a private business. Are they going to look for subsidies from some level of government,” he asked.

“CN back in the ‘70s couldn’t make it without subsidies and they gradually phased out services.”

Martin suggested Greyhound should have sought community input before reducing service.

As well, she suggested, the company has a monopoly and if they were intent on reducing service, they should lose the monopoly.

Directors agreed that a letter protesting the cuts should be sent to B.C. Passenger Transportation Board.