Greyhound’s plan to pull its buses out of the north have motivated the mayors of several communities to come together and have their concerns heard by higher levels of government.
Mayor Carol Leclerc told council at its Sept. 11 meeting that she had been contacted by Dawson Creek mayor Dale Bumstead who had been in conversation with Prince George mayor Lyn Hall with the intention of having a number of mayors and regional district chairpersons unite at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention. Their aim is to meet with the minister of transportation and infrastructure and express their displeasure at Greyhound’s wish to end its northern B.C. runs.
“I just wanted to bring you up to date on that and see if there was any other discussion or any other points we wanted to make,” she said.
Chief administration officer Heather Avison said the Prince George mayor’s intent is to put forward a late resolution to UBCM and was hoping that Terrace council could provide their support to endorsing a late resolution now, although at this time council didn’t have the actual resolution in hand.
Councillor Stacey Tyers said Greyhound is not regulated in disclosing its parcel volume or income from parcels.
“While they do release passenger stats and may take a loss on some routes, they don’t openly have a conversation about their shipping and I feel like sometimes it’s a way to get additional subsidies. But they also do have quite a successful shipping business and a lot of businesses in the area use Greyhound for their shipping,” she said, adding that people do still use Greyhound although not as much as in the past.
Tyers said it’s often cheaper to fly to Vancouver than to take Greyhound. It is a business issue the company will have to look at. When the choice is a 24-hour ride or an hour-and-a-half flight, it’s not surprising which option people will choose.
“I do think that because they don’t disclose their parcel revenue that I have to question how much money they’re actually losing and are they going to shut down all their parcel systems too?” she asked.
Leclerc said Greyhound was going to continue its freight hauling.
“Exactly,” said Tyers.
Sean Bujtas said the service is vital to the area.
“We can’t afford to lose this kind of service,” he said. “We need to stand up for the residents and fight this as hard as we can.”
Councillor James Cordeiro said he didn’t think the short-term transit system started by municipalities and First Nations in the north is a problem for Greyhound because it’s not a long-haul system.
“For $5, you don’t go from Prince George to Terrace and it’s not a substitute for that service,” he said. “They are two separate things and I think Greyhound equating them as direct competition subsidized by the government, that dog doesn’t hunt.”
“They made it clear they have no intent of getting rid of their parcel service and I think they have to take the less profitable routes with the more profitable ones.”
Councillor Brian Downie said that Greyhound dropping its long haul service could open up an opportunity for regional transit companies to fill the void, maybe with a different model of operation.
“I agree, we ought to ensure the powers that be know the effect on communities as a result of their proposal,” said Downie.
Council made a motion to support in principle a late resolution to UBCM on this issue and voted unanimously in favour of it.