Greyhound plans to discontinue Nanaimo-to-Victoria bus service, saying the route is no longer viable. The company will need Passenger Transportation Board approval to stop the service. (NICHOLAS PESCOD/BLACK PRESS)

Greyhound plans to discontinue Nanaimo-to-Victoria bus service

Company cites decline in ridership among reasons for cancellation request

Wheels on the Greyhound bus might not go round and round in the near future.

Greyhound Canada announced that it has filed an application to cancel service on five routes, including the Nanaimo-to-Victoria route, with the province’s Passenger Transportation Board. The four other routes are located in northern British Columbia.

Peter Hamel, Greyhound Canada’s regional vice-president for Western Canada, said ridership on the five routes has dropped by 51 per cent since 2010 and that the decision to submit a request to cancel the Nanaimo-Victoria route didn’t happen overnight.

“For the Victoria-Nanaimo route in 2013 we had an average passenger load of 16 [people]. As of 2017 we are seeing single digits, averaging around nine,” he said.

Hamel said Greyhound has dealt with increased operating costs and competition from other transit services over the years and pointed to the popularity of ridesharing as another factor in the decision.

“If you were to just go onto Kijiji and type rideshare you will find numerous rides, not just specifically on the Nanaimo-Victoria corridor but any corridor in B.C., right overtop of our routes,” he said.

Greyhound tried to make the route work over the last seven years by reducing frequency and relocating terminals in both Nanaimo and Victoria, said Hamel.

“We’re no longer viable on this corridor,” he said.

The PTB, an independent tribunal established in 2004 under the province’s Passenger Transportation Act, will need to approve Greyhound’s request before service can be discontinued.

Hamel said it’s business as usual for the company’s cargo and passenger operations until a decision is made. He said the company is willing to hold discussions with the provincial government.

“We are prepared to talk with any government officials and we are,” he said. “We will be meeting with officials through September.”

Hamel said submitting a request to cancel the Nanaimo route was difficult and Greyhound doesn’t take it lightly.

“This has not been an easy decision. It impacts employees, it impacts communities and it impacts passengers,” he said. “Unfortunately though we have been at an operating deficit in B.C. since 2004. We can no longer sustain the losses.”

If approved, Greyhound anticipates the cuts to take effect in early 2018.

nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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