BY BILL PHILLIPS
Greyhound is an essential service in northern B.C., says Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
He will be stressing that fact when he meets with Greyhound officials later this month. Greyhound looking to discontinue its passenger service along Highway 16 and the Passenger Transportation Board has been holding hearings regarding the request throughout the north.
Greyhound announced its intention to discontinue service earlier this year when the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry was in Smithers.
“It shows their total lack of understanding and sensitivity,” Cullen said last week during a media briefing with northern media. “It is an essential service.”
Greyhound says there is lower ridership on the northern routes and that it is losing money.
Cullen echoed the main complaint issued at the hearings that the lower ridership is a direct result of the Greyhound schedule which, in many communities along Highway 16, stops in the middle of the night.
“I would argue that’s it’s unsafe to drop people off at that time of day,” said Cullen.
Cullen added it seems that Greyhound’s schedule focuses on its freight business rather than passenger business.
He added that Greyhound is similar to phone companies in that they a licenced to service a geographical area and that should remain.
“They seem to want to carve out the pieces that make them the most profit and leave the other ones behind,” he said. “The reason they got the licence to operate throughout B.C. was that they would operate throughout the province.”
Greyhound has suggested governments create a fund to help subsidize the routes. Cullen said he would be open to such a suggestion but doesn’t want to negotiate with the threat of closure.
He said he is very willing to listen to Greyhound and work with the company, as long as it is willing to try and make the service work.
“If Greyhound comes to me and and presents a case of how they can present a service that people actually want to take, then I’m all ears,” said Cullen. “They should work with the communities to find out how they can get more people on the bus.”