Com­pany seeks dead­line ex­ten­sion to get bus ser­vice rolling

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Mark NIELSEN Cit­i­zen staff

The own­ers of a fledg­ling bus com­pany have asked the Pas­sen­ger Trans­porta­tion Board for an ex­ten­sion of the dead­line to get a ser­vice con­nect­ing Prince Ge­orge to the Lower Main­land and South­ern In­te­rior on the road.

Mer­ritt Shut­tle Bus Ser­vices Ltd. has un­til Nov. 21 to have ev­ery­thing in place un­der the PTB’s terms and con­di­tions to run long-haul ser­vices across B.C.

Through an ex­pe­dited process launched after Grey­hound with­drew from Western Canada, MSBS won the PTB’s per­mis­sion in late Oc­to­ber to op­er­ate the ser­vice

Co-owner Gene Field said Thurs­day he has asked the PTB to move the dead­line back to Dec. 1 to give MSBS more time to se­cure the fi­nanc­ing needed to buy the buses and to ap­ply for fund­ing from the fed­eral govern­ment.

Fed­eral Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Marc Gar­neau said Oct. 31 that Ot­tawa may have money avail­able to help pri­vate com­pa­nies op­er­ate bus routes in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties. Gar­neau did not spec­ify an amount and pro­vided no fur­ther de­tails.

Field said he is work­ing through his MLA and MP to get ac­cess to any avail­able fund­ing and will be meet­ing with some po­ten­tial in­vestors.

Field is the op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor and part­ner David Brule is the mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor.

De­spite the trou­bles, Field is op­ti­mistic the ven­ture will be up and run­ning.

“It’s been a dif­fi­cult road stress wise be­cause the mag­ni­tude of it is pretty big for peo­ple who have had no ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in the busi­ness field at all,” he said.

“I just know that I’ve al­ways wanted to own my own busi­ness and this is some­thing that has hap­pened to come along.

“But I’ve got a lot of good peo­ple in the right places that know what they’re do­ing, so that helps out a lot.”

The ven­ture would be cen­tred on Mer­ritt but also serve Prince Ge­orge, Lan­g­ley, Kam­loops and Kelowna at least three times a week. It would also run a ser­vice twice a day to the High­land Val­ley Cop­per Mine from Mer­ritt and Kam­loops.

MSBS has a web­site up and run­ning at www.mer­rittshut­tle.net. It has some bugs to work out but pro­vides a sched­ule and rates as well as con­tact in­for­ma­tion.

Field said pas­sen­gers will be charged $20 plus $10 for each stop they pass through. For Prince Ge­orge to Mer­ritt, it adds up to $100 one way. For those who buy a round trip, they get a 50 per cent dis­count for the trip back, adding up to $150 to­tal, and each ticket will be good for two weeks, Field said.

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