In the wake of Greyhound route closures, Vernon’s Scott Anderson, Interim Leader of the BC Conservative Party, urged the BC NDP to find innovative solutions to transportation for our province’s northern and interior regions.
Greyhound Canada announced that effective Oct. 31, a single route between Vancouver and Seattle will be all that remain of its routes in B.C..
“Since [Greyhound’s announcement], the BC Liberals have been too busy blaming the NDP to suggest any alternatives themselves, and the best the NDP has so far come up with is to urge the private sector to do something,” said Anderson, referencing a recent statement by Claire Trevena, the BC NDP Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Trevena met with Western Canadian ministers and representatives on Greyhound’s service withdrawal this week.
“[Thursday’s] meeting with ministers from Western Canada, and a representative from Ontario, was positive and productive. We recognize Greyhound’s surprise withdrawal will leave people with limited options to get around. Greyhound’s 90-day deadline for service withdrawal is extremely short for alternatives to be developed. We have agreed to write to the federal minister of transport to advocate for all Canadians who need access to safe, reliable and affordable transportation,” said Trevena.
“My staff have been in close contact with their federal counterparts to advocate for British Columbians who will lose bus service, and I have asked them to continue to work together.
“I hope local operators will see an opportunity to bring a badly needed service to the parts of the B.C. most affected by Greyhound’s decision. The Passenger Transportation Board will be moving new inter-city bus applications to replace Greyhound to the front of the line,” Trevena continues. “I am committed to sitting down with service providers, the private sector and local government, and will continue to be in close contact with my provincial counterparts, to explore what other options are available to keep communities connected.”
But Anderson demands the government needs to do more.
“Neither the NDP nor the Liberals have done anything while in power to pave the way for new, 21st century innovation coming to B.C.,” said Anderson. “Neither party did anything to prepare for private sector ridesharing regulation, neither party has done anything to prepare for the coming of autonomous vehicles, and neither party is prepared to offer solutions now that the interior and northern B.C. are stuck without a viable means of transportation. Instead, they’re squabbling like children over whose fault it is, something that’s especially rich coming from the Liberals who terminated BC Rail.”
Instead of raising taxes on the most efficient and effective form of energy, as both the Liberals and NDP have done, thereby driving up the cost of transportation (and everything else), Anderson urges the NDP to think outside its usual box and incentivize the private sector to supply alternate forms of transport through transportation tax breaks and a loosening of the regulatory burden.
Anderson suggests a hybrid approach, easing the way for the private sector to fill the transportation gaps in a way that makes fiscal sense.
“For example, Flair and Swoop are booming in Abbotsford, and short haul flights make sense for that area,” said Anderson. “They may not make economic sense for other areas, but other forms of transportation, including but not limited to private bus service, may be the answer for hard-to-service routes.
“We need a leaner, more comprehensive transportation plan for the future,” said Anderson. “Let’s leverage this century’s advances in communication and modes of transportation to allow the private sector, either through incentivization or public–private partnership to fill in the gaps. Right now all either party has done is put an increasing burden on transportation through various taxes and onerous regulation.”