Passenger Transportation Board makes stop in Smithers

Public given the chance to speak about Greyhound’s request to cancel the route along Highway 16.

The B.C. Passenger Transportation Board made a stop in Smithers as part of a Northwest tour last Wednesday to hear from the public about whether or not Greyhound is an essential public service and if it is financially viable in the North.

Seven community members spoke to the governing board that will make the decision to approve Greyhound’s request to withdraw their passenger service along Highway 16.

All seven spoke about the importance of the service and asked the board to deny the company’s request.

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Area A (Smithers rural) Director Mark Fisher addressed the panel first. He expressed frustration with the lack of communication between the company and local government.

Kitimat-Stikine Regional District Electoral Area B (Hazeltons rural areas, Kispiox Valley, Moricetown through Cedarvale) Director Linda Pierre echoed his concerns, adding she feels this process is being rushed.

“How did we get here? Where’s the board whose role it is to assess the fiscal capability of the company, their soundness, the need for ridership but there is no overall planning? It is all piecemeal.”

Clayton Campbell, who is the agent at the depot in Smithers and Terrace, also spoke about the lack of communication from Greyhound. He said customers keeps asking him what is going on and he doesn’t know what to tell them.

Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach told the panel the question of transportation between rural communities speaks to a larger question of our rural development strategy.

“If we want rural communities in our region to be viable in the future and we want rural life to continue as a fundamental part of our provincial framework and national identity we need to figure this out,” he said.

He also mentioned that the new Highway 16 transportation service was meant to compliment not compete with Greyhound’s service, adding that the hours and routes are different.

Bachrach also read comments he received about the need to keep Greyhound from residents on his social media pages.

Shelley Brown advocated to keep the service on behalf of Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, and Shelly Worthington spoke on Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson’s behalf, also telling the board the importance of the service for northern rural residents.

Manager of the Smithers and District Chamber of Commerce Heather Gallagher told the panel the business community supports the idea of Greyhound sticking around.

Greyhound requested at the end of August to cancel nine routes in B.C., including five northern B.C. routes and its route from Prince George to Prince Rupert.

Since transportation is a regulated service in B.C., Greyhound does not have a contract with the Province but it does need approval from the five-member B.C. Passenger Service Board to make changes in operations.

Greyhound executives were on hand to answer questions and gave a brief presentation about why they want to cancel the route along Highway 16. They did mention they’d like to keep the freight service and just put an end to the passenger service.

In their presentation, they noted the company has not been profitable for many years due to market conditions. They’ve seen a 46 per cent drop in ridership since 2010 and are currently losing $35,000 a day in B.C.

They recognize it will be difficult and deeply regret having to issue the filing but after throughly exploring every avenue to reengineer its business, they said they have to take this step.

The B.C. Passenger Transportation Board will make their decision early next year.

-with files from Jackie Lieuwen

Just Posted

Time to let go

Northern Lights Wildlife shelter near Smithers set to release orphaned animals this spring.

All that jazz

Smithers Secondary show they have all that jazz with their performance of Chicago.

Minerals North to draw hundreds

This is second time Houston has hosted northern mining industry.

NWCC gets green light for name change

The name Coast Mountain College in effect as of June 18

Tree branch damages VIA Rail train between Prince Rupert and Prince George

Passenger train has delayed the scheduled route on April 22

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

Police searching for escaped prisoner in B.C.

Ralph Whitfield Morris, 83, is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

Minister Mike Farnworth says federal law doesn’t go far enough

VIDEO: Vets, volunteers set up vaccination station for sick bunnies

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

If you see a dog in a hot car, don’t break in: SPCA

People are being discouraged from smashing windows to free animals. The SPCA has tips on what else you can do.

Municipal election loophole will be fixed, premier says

Union, corporate donations still allowed for slate party ‘operational’ needs

Most Read