All options ‘on the table’ following Greyhound decision: B.C. transportation minister

Fallout from Greyhound withdrawing service from Western Canada
Greyhound's announcement that it will pull all but one of its bus routes in B.C. has government scrambling to figure out how to replace what is a critical transportation system for many people in the province. Grace Ke reports.

The B.C. government is looking at all options – including a taxpayer-funded subsidy – to ensure some kind of bus service continues once Greyhound Canada ends almost its entire operation in the province this fall, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said on Tuesday.

“We’re looking at all options at the moment,” Trevena told reporters at the legislature. “We haven’t ruled out anything.”

Greyhound Canada abruptly announced on Monday that it would cease operations in Western Canada by the end of October. In B.C., it intends to continue only its Vancouver-Seattle route.

READ MORE: Greyhound Canada to end routes in Prairies, B.C.

The company cited dwindling ridership and mounting losses – more than $70 million over the last six years – as the chief reasons for halting service. In a presentation it made earlier this year to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board, Greyhound said annual ridership had declined by about 350,000 since 2013 and it was losing roughly $35,000 a day in B.C.

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Trevena said she intends to contact other provincial transportation ministers to discuss a strategy to keep bus services operating.

“This isn’t just a B.C. problem, it is a western Canadian problem,” she said. “I’m going to be talking to them. I’m also going to be talking with private operators, going to be talking with B.C. Transit — we’re going to be looking at all the options available.”

READ MORE: No Greyhound service will have noticeable effect: Big White

She noted the provincial government has funded a special bus service on Hwy. 16 in northern British Columbia and it appears to be a popular success. However, she would not commit to extending that kind of service elsewhere.

While she insisted a public subsidy is an option, she also made it clear it is not the B.C. government’s preferred option.

“We’ve seen that a private operation has been able to work in the past so we’re going to see whether there is the opportunity for a private operator to come,” she said. “But, as I say, these [are] early days. We have just received notice and so I don’t think we need to rule out anything.”