Greyhound Canada is asking the B.C. government for changes to provincial regulations that determine their bus schedules, saying they’re losing money under the current rules.
If their lobby efforts are successful, it could mean a reduction of the number of buses serving Revelstoke, or seasonal schedules aligned with demand.
Stuart Kendrick is the senior vice president of Greyhound Canada. He told the Times Review the company lost $14 million on its B.C. operations last year, and has ran up similar losses in other years.
In B.C., the provincial Passenger Transportation Board determines service levels. Kendrick said many of the daily schedule requirements mean the company is running buses with very few passengers on board at certain times of day or during some seasons. He wants to move away from a model based on daily schedules with minimum service levels to a more flexible system. He said Greyhound feels the process required to adjust routes is inflexible.
“Like any corporation, if you can’t be viable in any part of your business, you’ve got to make tough decisions and changes,” Kendrick said. “And in order for us to do that we need to get some flexibility on the regulations to meet the changes in demand.”
He said Revelstoke was similar to Whistler; it’s a destination with seasonal demand that could benefit from schedule adjustments: “It could be more a Friday and Sunday and a little less during the week. It’s just looking at how many people are on the bus and being able to make the changes a little quicker than we can now.”
Kendrick has written B.C. Transportation Minister Mary Polak, requesting the bus service be deregulated in B.C.
Polak said she is aware that B.C. service is at risk, and ministry staff are working on options.
“It’s obvious from what they’re saying that they need to make adjustments, or they’re going to have to pull out of the whole thing,” Polak said.
Kendrick sits on several national bus transportation boards and noted examples in other provices where the service was deregulated to make it viable. “The worst case is you could exit [B.C.]. That’s not something that we want to do,” Kendrick said.
Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce executive director Judy Goodman said the service is utilized by residents and visitors to town, as well as tourists. She opposed Greyhound’s move to reduce service levels.
“It is an issue,” Goodman said. “We’re certainly not over-serviced as far as I’m concerned. The schedule isn’t the greatest, and I think reducing that would be an issue.”
She noted Greyhound had made efforts to reduce service levels in the past but wasn’t successful.
— with reporting by Tom Fletcher/Black Press