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Tofino Bus seeks to expand service from Nanaimo

A Vancouver Island transportation company seeks support from residents regarding an application sent to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board last month that would allow the company to service transit cuts proposed by Greyhound.

Tofino Bus, a privately owned bus company running from Victoria to Tofino, is looking to expand its service to Courtenay and Campbell River.

“With their proposed cuts, we’ll lose most of our connecting schedules, so after they make their cuts, we’ll have less passengers able to connect to our service to Tofino,” said Dylan Green, owner, Tofino Bus. “We’ve been a daily bus for 10 years so we’re well able and ready to pick up the schedules eliminated by Greyhound.”

Greyhound Canada has applied to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board to reduce services on 15 B.C. routes in the hopes of eliminating $2.2 million in operating kilometres across the province.

Last year, the company reported a loss of $1.4 million on scheduled passenger operations. The application has gone through the public feedback process and a decision is still pending.

“Greyhound is making the cuts because we’re losing money on the trips. There isn’t enough ridership to support the frequency that’s there,” said Grant Odsen, regional manager of passenger services for Greyhound (B.C.).

The proposed cuts would eliminate one out of two scheduled daily round-trips from Nanaimo to Campbell River, and weekend service between the two destinations. The cuts would also affect one of four daily round trips between Nanaimo and Victoria.

According to Odsen, average daily loads for the 5107 out of Campbell River show an average of 20.8 passengers while the 5117 weekend service shows an average load of 8.1 passengers. In the other direction, the 5118 out of Nanaimo shows an average load of 11.8 passengers. The round-trip route proposed for cuts from Victoria to Nanaimo shows an average passenger load of about 14, he added.

“Break-even load factor would be in the mid-20s,” he said.

Green said he sees opportunity in those numbers. The application to provide service was submitted in October, and he is hoping the decision will be made jointly with Greyhound’s application.

“They’re a larger company with higher overhead where a local company such as Tofino Bus, we use a mixed fleet of mini buses and motor coaches depending on the passenger loads,” he said, adding, “Our maintenance shop is here on the Island, so for a local company, the ridership that exists is quite strong.”

Jeannie Blaney, CAW Local 114 representative, said the union is concerned about the proposed cuts. She said Greyhound should look at alternative ways to cost save, such as more effective advertising and cost-efficient buses.

“Greyhound has a social responsibility to not only take on the more profitable runs, but perhaps some of the not-so-profitable ones,” she said.

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