UBCM calls on prov­ince, feds to pro­vide Grey­hound re­place­ment

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Jen­nifer SALTMAN

B.C. mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are ask­ing the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to come to­gether to find trans­porta­tion so­lu­tions to re­place Grey­hound when the com­pany ends its ser­vice in the prov­ince later this year.

Elected of­fi­cials from across B.C. unan­i­mously en­dorsed a spe­cial res­o­lu­tion at the Union of B.C. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (UBCM) con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day that calls on the two lev­els of govern­ment to work with lo­cal gov­ern­ments, pub­lic reg­u­la­tors and op­er­a­tors to come up with “new, af­ford­able and co­or­di­nated trans­porta­tion ser­vices” that will keep peo­ple and freight mov­ing.

“The loss of bus ser­vice will be sig­nif­i­cant for B.C. com­mu­ni­ties – es­pe­cially those in more ru­ral and re­mote places, where there are no air­ports or other modes of trans­porta­tion,” said Art Kaehn, chair of the Fraser-Fort Ge­orge Re­gional District, speak­ing to del­e­gates on be­half of the UBCM ex­ec­u­tive.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ments have ex­pressed con­cern on be­half of pas­sen­gers and busi­nesses who have come to rely on Grey­hound.”

Af­ter mak­ing a se­ries of ser­vice cuts, Grey­hound an­nounced last month that it will pull out of B.C., Al­berta, Saskatchewan, Man­i­toba and north­ern On­tario on Oct. 31.

Ac­cord­ing to Grey­hound, the com­pany had suf­fered mil­lions of dol­lars in losses from a 46-per-cent drop in rid­er­ship since 2010.

As a short-term so­lu­tion, B.C. Tran­sit, with fund­ing from the prov­ince, is op­er­at­ing B.C. Bus North as a pi­lot project, with buses run­ning twice weekly on routes in north­ern B.C.

Lil­looet has pro­posed, in a res­o­lu­tion, re­open­ing the for­mer B.C. Rail cor­ri­dor be­tween North Vancouver and Prince Ge­orge to pas­sen­ger trains, in an ef­fort to mit­i­gate the loss of Grey­hound.

McBride and the Cen­tral Koote­nay Re­gional District have also put for­ward res­o­lu­tions that men­tion Grey­hound – one about ad­dress­ing the “vi­tal pas­sen­ger trans­porta­tion void” in north­ern B.C. and the other re­gard­ing pa­tient trans­fers in ru­ral ar­eas.

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