Hearing dates set for application to change provincial bus routes
SYDNEY — The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has set hearing dates for an application by Acadian Intercity Coaches LP to change routes and schedules in the province.
Acadian’s proposed changes would include elimination of a bus run departing Sydney for Halifax at 5 p.m. and another leaving Halifax for Sydney at 10 a.m. And buses now leaving Sydney for Halifax at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. would instead depart at 7:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. and those leaving Halifax for Sydney at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. would instead depart at 7 a.m. and noon.
John Pearce, a director for the transportation advocacy group Transport 2000, objects to the proposed schedule changes between Sydney and Halifax, saying they don’t really fit with Acadian’s new business model, which is to focus on routes between cities and higher population areas and reduce rural service.
The reduction doesn’t acknowledge the Cape Breton Regional Municipality as a populous area, he has said.
Pearce said Wednesday the changes also eliminate later in the day departures.
“I think the cuts there mark a deterioration in the service, which will discourage more passengers,” he said.
Pearce also said he would like to have seen a hearing scheduled somewhere between Antigonish and Sydney.
In Nova Scotia, Acadian also wants to elimi-
I think the cuts there mark a deterioration of the service, which will discourage more passengers. John Pearce, director Transportation 2000
nate service in the Kentville-Digby corridor, drop a Friday departure in the Halifax-Kentville corridor, and add to the Halifax-Moncton corridor.
Acadian, which is owned by Montreal-based Groupe Orleans Express, has also applied to the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board to make changes to its service in that province.
In its application to the utility boards, Acadian said revenues in all three Maritime provinces were expected to be $11.1 million last year — a decline of 11 per cent over 2008 — adding that most of the company's net loss is in New Brunswick.
Spokesperson Manon Piche said Monday the decline is now expected to be higher based on information available after the application was made. Nova Scotia revenues will decline by 17 per cent, she said, while declining to give specific dollar numbers before the board hearings.
The application blames the losses in part on regulations that require the company to operate on routes that are not profitable. It also said certain trips have become uneconomical due to van and public transit competition.
Hearings will be held on Feb. 24 at 10:30 a.m. at the Old Orchard Inn in Wolfville and at 7 p.m. at the Conference Centre in Wolfville as well as on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 20 in Digby. The board says anyone wishing to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses must file notice no later than Feb. 10; anyone wishing to make written comments can forward a letter to the clerk of the board at Box 1692, Unit M, Halifax, N.S., B3J 3S3 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 902-424-4448 no later than Feb. 19.