City council is letting Greyhound know that cutting back on its bus frequency is not acceptable.
Council voted unanimously Tuesday to write a strongly worded letter of “disenchantment” about the bus company’s proposal to reduce frequency on some of its B.C. routes.
“They reduced the routes down not long ago. It seems like they want to run package delivery service that picks up the occasional passenger,” said Mayor Peter Milobar.
Recalling the company pulled its depot out of the downtown, which has also impacted service, Coun. Pat Wallace agreed with the mayor’s view.
“I think we should send them a strong letter of disenchantment,” she said.
Greyhound Canada has applied to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board to reduce bus service that might affect Kamloops, according to a letter to council from the bus company’s regional manager.
The main route involved is the Trans-Canada Highway from Vancouver to the Alberta border.
Council had until Wednesday to provide comments to the board. Milobar wasn’t happy with the timing, noting the letter was dated Oct. 3, but council didn’t meet to review and discuss its reaction for two weeks, due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The public has until Oct. 24 to submit its responses to the board.
Coun. Marg Spina pointed out Greyhound has a monopoly for bus rights to the road. Sometimes it goes through a community at 2 a.m. and that’s considered a stop. If service is reduced, will some passengers only be able to catch a ride in the middle of the night, she wondered.
“If they can't do a good job of it, open it up to free market competition,” she said, adding she knows people who need the bus to come to Kamloops from outlying communities to get health services.
Not all of council was as vehement.
Coun. Tina Lange said Greyhound is a business and if it’s running too many empty buses, the cost of tickets could go up.
“My concern is if we continue to force them to run and it's not being used, costs will go up,” she said.
Coun. Nelly Dever noted the population is aging and seniors and university students are the biggest bus users.
Milobar said Greyhound likely operates as airlines do, with some routes they lose money on and others they make money on.
His concern was the frequency is dropping dramatically.
“This isn't four routes (going down) to three, this is two routes down to one. I'm looking at impact of the outlying communities that feed into this hub. That's huge impact for everyone in our region. We are the regional hospital, things like that.
“I see that as a slight disservice to Kamloops but a huge difference to those in outlying areas. And we should support their concerns around this. This is very significant."