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Greyhound plans to cut service to Mount Washington ski hill

Oct 16 2012

Greyhound Canada wants to eliminate bus service from Victoria to Mount Washington and reduce the number of trips between some other centres on Vancouver Island, citing a drop in passenger numbers and other factors.

The Mount Washington route has been experiencing low ridership for some time, said Grant Odsen, Greyhound’s regional manager of passenger services for B.C.

He noted the route is also seasonal, and is served by other operators. Smith Transportation’s Daily Ski Bus ferries passengers to Mount Washington from nine Island communities.

Odsen said Greyhound has been travelling to Mount Washington since 2005, when it took over operation of a service previously provided by Island Coach Lines. The company ferries passengers to the ski resort from Victoria, Duncan and Nanaimo.

A document from the company said it lost

$14.1 million on its scheduled passenger operations in B.C. during the 2011/12 fiscal year, a trend described as “unsustainable.”

The proposed reductions include reduced trips on 15 routes around the province, among them Nanaimo-Campbell River and Victoria-Nanaimo.

The latter is the “heaviest-density” route on the Island, Odsen said, and currently has four runs a day in each direction, with an extra trip on Fridays and Sundays.

“Our proposal is to drop it to just three a day, morning, noon and night, essentially,” he said.

Odsen said any changes could be reversed if conditions pick up.

He said the Passenger Transportation Board, an independent tribunal that grants the licences, establishes a minimum number of trips to each location along a route.

A company can apply to have that minimum changed.

Notice of the application has been posted on both the Greyhound and B.C. Passenger Transportation Board websites, and the public has 14 days — until Oct. 24 — to respond.

“Anytime you have to reduce service it’s disappointing because it means that your business is down,” Odsen said.

Several things could be involved in the drop in business, he said.

“The airfares in a lot of instances have dropped. Our costs have gone up. We measure profitability on a cost per mile, revenue per mile. Obviously, the cost of fuel has gone up, our cost of maintenance has gone up.”

On the Island, expanded transit service on the Victoria-Nanaimo corridor is another factor, Odsen said.

He said he expects few layoffs on the Island with the proposed reductions, and none in the Interior, in part because the company anticipated the current situation and held off on some of the hiring it might otherwise have done.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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