B.C. not optimistic about private replacements for Greyhound in remote areas

There’s already been some interest from companies thinking about replacing Greyhound buses on B.C. highways, but the Passenger Transportation Board isn’t holding out much hope for remote rural routes.

Passenger Transportation Board is fast-tracking applications to take over bus routes

The B.C. Transportation Board is fast-tracking applications to replace Greyhound bus routes. (Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News)

There's already been some interest from companies thinking about replacing Greyhound buses on B.C. highways, but the Passenger Transportation Board isn't holding out much hope for remote rural routes.

The PTB, which licenses inter-city buses, announced this week that it will fast-track applications for long-distance services after Greyhound revealed plans to cancel all but one route in this province.

Board chair Catharine Read said she expects most, if not all, of the applications will focus on the more populated areas of southern B.C.

"Greyhound has already pulled out of a lot of the northern parts of the province, and we didn't get interest in people wanting to provide service up there," Read told CBC.

"I think down south … it's a different story because you've got greater population densities, and there's less distance between communities."

The fast-track process means the PTB will aim to make a decision on any application within 60 days, Read said.

Normally, the board posts all applications online and invites public input, with a goal of making a decision within 60 to 90 days of publication. In this case, however, the board has determined there's an urgent public need, which means the applications don't need to be posted online and the PTB doesn't have to consider alternatives, according to Read.

"We have had expressions of interest, so we're hopeful that those keep coming in and that they'll result in applications," she said.

She pointed out that when Greyhound scrapped two routes on Vancouver Island earlier this year, Tofino Bus stepped in to pick up the slack.

In northern B.C., on the other hand, the province has funded a one-year pilot project for a bus service connecting cities with round trips twice a week.

Greyhound has said it's cancelling the vast majority of its routes in Western Canada by the end of October.

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