Northern B.C. leaders have rallied to keep Greyhound from departing the north, and now plan to meet with the company to help find a solution.
Last month Greyhound applied with the B.C. passenger board to withdraw its service on nine B.C. routes, including its northern routes connecting Prince George, Prince Rupert, Dawson Creek, Fort St. James, and Fort Nelson to the Yukon border.
Greyhound cited losses of more than $10 million annually to justify the pullout, but northern B.C. leaders contend that it’s an essential service for rural, northern communities and can’t be measured by profit alone. At the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver between 15 and 20 mayors and regional district leaders from the north met with Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena last Thursday (Sept. 28) to discuss the Greyhound’s services in the north.
Though the decision lies with the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board on whether to allow Greyhound to withdraw, Minister Trevena took the first step to facilitate a meeting between northern leaders and Greyhound to discuss possible solutions.
Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead, who spearheaded the rally of northern leaders, said the aim is to hear from Greyhound directly on the problems the company is facing with the affected routes, and solve them together.
“The critical piece for me is that we’re all hearing the same message from Greyhound on what the issues are, why they’re having to discontinue this service…. so that we can go about working with them, and see if we can find and facilitate some answers or options and not see this service lost to the north,” said Bumstead.
He added that Transportation Minister Trevena promised to stay involved by having a senior official at the meeting as well.
Mayor Bumstead said that the organization of the past UBCM meeting was difficult, limited and rushed, and although several mayors missed out, including Terrace mayor Carole Leclerc, they did manage to get 15 to 20 people to represent the north.
The upcoming meeting with Greyhound is intended to include all the northern leaders.
“Whoever wants to be there,” said Bumstead. “This is open to all of us, we’re all working together on this.”
The other key part of the UBCM discussion is the need to give public input to the Passenger Transportation Board.
Municipalities, regional districts and members of the public are all being encouraged to send feedback to them as the governing body.
Terrace mayor Carole Leclerc said she talked to the deputy minister who said the same, and the City of Terrace is putting their name on a Prince George letter of input.
“We supported a resolution from Prince George that the passenger transportation board consider the needs of the communities in the northwest, in the rural communities,” said Leclerc.
The B.C. Transportation Board has already begun weighing out Greyhound’s request, with aims to decide about the move within 90 days. However, that deadline is flexible based on the complexity of the decision and amount of feedback received.