Kootenay politicians slam Greyhound route cuts

MP Wayne Stetski, MLA Tom Shypitka say service cuts will hurt rural connectivity

The bus service cuts by Greyhound is troubling news for rural communities that rely on it as a transportation option, according to local politicians at the provincial and federal level.

MP Wayne Stetski said he was shocked by the announcement that Greyhound will no longer be running passenger routes across Western Canada.

“We have over 50 communities in our riding of Kootenay-Columbia, and it’s common for people to need to travel between communities for school, for work, or for family and other needs,” wrote Stetski, on his MP Facebook page. “Not everyone can afford a car, nor should they. Canadians are dependent on affordable transit alternatives like commercial bus lines.

“It is unacceptable that the bus will no longer be an option for our citizens. I am writing the Minister of Transportation to determine what we can do to ensure that affordable transportation continues to exist, here and across Canada.”

Greyhound announced the cancellation of routes across Western Canada on Monday, citing a 41 percent decrease in ridership since 2010, increased competition from subsidized transportation services, new low cost carriers and increased car travel.

While routes are discontinued in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Greyhound operations were tweaked and will continue in Ontario and Quebec.

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka said the cuts will hit seniors, students and families the hardest, while accusing the provincial NDP government of inaction after service cuts to northern B.C. were announced earlier in February.

“When Greyhound planned to reduce northern service, the BC NDP took no concrete action for months. Now, we see the entire province will lose bus service,” said Shypitka, in a statement. “We have seen business’s operational costs rise and are projected to rise further since the NDP have come in to power. The Employer Health Tax, the rise in minimum wages (which bumps up the scale of all other wages), and the dramatic jump in gas prices are some of the additional burdens to a declining market. Government should be there to assist and not hamper business.

“The BC NDP can’t simply throw up their hands and blame others – especially as added costs, particularly to a transportation company, are a result of decisions they make.”

Shypitka added that it’s the responsibility of the NDP to provide a safe and reliable transportation system for people across the province.

Claire Trevena, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said Greyhound’s service cuts is ‘hugely problematic’ and said the company never gave notice to the provincial government.

This move will leave people with limited options to get around, and this will likely impact the most vulnerable,” said Trevena.

“It’s unfortunate that Greyhound did not communicate their plans sooner. At no point did Greyhound reach out to me, or my staff, to have a conversation on solutions to keep people connected — something I would have expected, given their long history in this province.”

Trevena said she will be consulting with other service providers and local governments in the future to look at transportation options and rural connectivity.

“In the meantime, I hope that other local, private operators will see an opportunity to bring a badly needed service to the parts of the province most affected by Greyhound’s decision,” she said.

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