Dogged by poor ridership, Greyhound Canada is proposing reducing the frequency of trips through the Kootenays.
The company’s application is now in the hands of the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) after the period of public notification and input process ended today.
“The Passenger Transportation Board will weigh the pros and cons and make their decision,” explained Grant Odsen, the regional manager for Greyhound Canada.
Although Greyhound buses do not pass through Trail, passengers are shuttled to Castlegar by the Silver City Stage Lines to make connections on routes from Kelowna to Calgary.
However, due to lack of ridership, Greyhound is proposing cutting back on the number of trips it makes through the Kootenay corridor, one of 16 proposed route reductions in B.C.
Currently there is one trip each way (between Kelowna and Calgary), each day, seven days a week. In addition, there is another trip each way three days per week. On alternating routes those three days can either be Thursday to Saturday or Friday to Sunday, said Odsen.
“What we are proposing is to take off a three-day per week trip.”
He boiled the proposal down to one of economics.
“We aren’t in the habit of eliminating trips that have lots of people on it,” he said. “But the ridership in that whole (Kootenay) corridor hasn’t been good for quite some time.”
He attributed that to a number of factors including cheaper airfares, more people driving and changes in traveling habits.
But the bottom line is the simple fact that fewer people are taking the bus on those specific routes, he said.
“Our East-bound route has an average load factor of 12.1 passengers per trip. Our West-bound is 11.3 passengers.”
A Greyhound bus can hold 54 passengers.
“When that coach is traveling all the way from Kelowna to Calgary is 600 miles. And you’re only carrying an average of 11 people, you’re losing a lot of money.”
The recently ended public input period allowed for people to submit objections to the changes. The PTB collected the information and will begin the process of reviewing the comments.
It has no set timeline to present a final decision on the proposal, said Odsen.
In an interview with Nelson Star reporter Megan Cole, Odsen added that Greyhound’s last resort would be to pull out of B.C. completely.
“That’s obviously something we don’t want to do, that’s why we’re going through this reduction application process. We would like to continue to do business in British Columbia and there is a need for our service, albeit in a different form that what you currently see operating now.”