Hear­ing dates set for ap­pli­ca­tion to change pro­vin­cial bus routes

Cape Breton Post - - BUSINESS - BY CHRIS HAYES chayes@cb­post.com

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 board@gov.ns.ca or call­ing 902-424-4448 no later than Feb. 19.

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