Greyhound cutting routes to and from Chetwynd by half: not enough passengers
Liz Brown, Chetwynd Echo
CHETWYND – Mayor Merlin Nichols and council received a formal letter from Greyhound Bus announcing a schedule reduction for Route J – including all routes between Dawson Creek and Prince George.
For Chetwynd, this means the schedule has been cut from 24 to 14 runs. Routes will run one direction Monday to Friday and the other direction Tuesday to Saturday.
Grant Odsen Regional Manger for Greyhound Bus says it boils down to economics.
“In general Greyhound is losing a considerable amount of money in the province of BC.”
Odsen says the routes are underperforming and losing money, therefore the Transportation Board applied for a reduction in minimum frequency, meaning in Chetwynd only, one route per day is required to run.
“The cost of providing the service between fuel costs, the cost of equipment, maintenance equipment, staff costs, labour costs…everything has gone up.”
Costs have increased, but ridership has declined.
“In general it’s competition with lower cost airlines. I think that and the accessibility of vehicles…vehicles are lasting longer.” Mayor Shari Green of Prince George wrote a letter to surrounding communities urging mayors to write a letter to reject the application before October 17.
Green says Greyhound Canada attempted to treat the matter as an “urgent public need” so that councils would forgo the process of requiring public notice. She says removing regular bus routes posed a potential risk to travelers and women, especially in light of the Highway of Tears deaths.
“The Highway of Tears has claimed many women, whose disappearances remain unsolved…the risk and anger for women continues. An important suggestion from the Highway of Tears Symposium Recommendation Report was a shuttle bus transportation system along Highway 16. The proposed reduction in service by Greyhound goes against the very need these northern communities have,” says Green.
“I don’t know that it’s a potential risk. What I do know is we operate a service to the public but we aren’t a public service. The reason we do this as a private company is we’re profit driven. It’s as simple as that,” says Grant.
Grant says the decline in ridership dropped dramatically after the 2008 beheading of passenger Tim McLean by fellow passenger Vince Li near Portage La Prairie, MB and has never recovered.
“We saw a decline in ridership immediately after that. Ridership declined. It went away and it’s gone.”
Since the event, security screening has been established in larger cities, but is often inaccessible to smaller communities where stations may operate out of a gas station he says.
An average of ten passengers ride the bus from Chetwynd and if the need increases, they will be able to add another bus.
Greyhound says this will not affect their delivery service.