Greyhound calls for public transportation fund

Made-for-the-north proposal would open northern routes to bidding process

Greyhound is calling for the provincial government to create a fund to finance private-sector transportation in northern B.C.

The fund would be used for a competitive bidding process to provide bus services that northern residents have called essential.

Last September Greyhound requested to withdraw its passenger services from the region due to financial losses, but northern residents and leaders have spoken out about the importance of the bus services in the north, which prompted the company to ask the government and private donors to take responsibility for supplying the finances.

“BC’s rural and remote communities require transportation connections to larger centres that provide essential health services, employment opportunities and post-secondary education,” said Greyhound in its press release.

“Federal and provincial governments, and large municipalities spend billions annually on urban transit services; BC’s rural communities deserve transportation investments as well.”

The company says the province should start a “Connecting Communities Fund,” that could include both public and private resources.

Municipalities and First Nations across B.C. would access the fund and hold bids for private companies to compete for the contract to run the transportation and bring people to regional hubs such as Prince George or Kelowna.

The company says it “possibly [won’t benefit] at all” from the process, since it would be a competitive bidding process.

“We share the belief that BC residents should have access to intercity bus transportation options, and private sector operators can ramp up quickly to provide cost-effective services,” said the company.

Greyhound will continue its full operations during the period of review by the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board, which will decide on its request.

If Greyhound is approved to end its services, changes won’t be made until 2018.

The company released the call for a transportation fund on Monday, the day of the first public hearing by the Passenger Transportation Board, to get input from northern residents on Greyhound’s request to withdraw from the north.

A meeting in Terrace is being held tomorrow, Dec. 12, at the Best Western, Skeena Room, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Those speaking have already pre-registered.

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