Company seeks deadline extension to get bus service rolling
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.