The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has weighed in on Greyhound Canada’s move to end passenger bus and freight service on all but one route in Western Canada.
“At the Kelowna chamber, we were as surprised as anyone when we heard the announcement,” said chamber past president Tom Dyas, speaking on behalf of the chamber.
“We know that transportation linkages between Kelowna and surrounding communities are critical for both those living in smaller communities who access services here and for the many businesses that count on customers from around the region to add to their bottom lines.”
Dyas said the chamber has not had any feedback from its 1,200 members yet about Greyhound’s move, but knows some chamber member businesses use the package delivery service the bus company provides.
Given that Greyhound also plans to end all freight services, Dyas said those chamber members will now have to find alternate carriers.
“Fortunately, there are options,” he said. “But less competition usually leads to an increase in pricing which is a concern.”
Earlier this week, Greyhound Canada announced because of a sharp drop in ridership over the last eight years, it was ending all service in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and only keeping the route between Vancouver and Seattle in B.C. That route is run by the American arm of Greyhound.
The company said since 2010, ridership has dropped 41 per cent.
Dyas said the loss of jobs as a result of the Greyhound Canada’s move is also a concern.
“First and foremost, the loss of the 415 plus jobs (across Western Canada) is a negative,” he said.
“While it may be felt more in the smaller communities around us, as a regional centre we know there is quite an impact here (in Kelowna). It is another sign of the growing rural-urban divide and as a regional centre that is connected to those living in the many small communities up and down the valley, the loss of this service should be a concern to our community leaders.”
Dyas said he expects other businesses will step up to help fill the void and is recommending government resist any temptation to jump in with a publicly operated inter-community bus service. Instead, he said, the government should look for partnerships with the private sector to fill the gap created by Greyhound’s departure from the market.
B.C.’s Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has said she would like to see the private sector step in to replace Greyhounds operations, which are scheduled to end Oct. 31.
“Going forward it is important for governments at all levels to understand why this business decision has been made and work together to ensure community connectivity is addressed,” said Dyas.
“It will require the involvement of the government, as well as industry, to come up with solutions that result in a service that meets the needs of our communities without creating an undue burden on local taxpayers.”
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