Former bus driver Roger Veilleux inspects his bus before a trip in May. The Greyhound bus route from Dawson Creek B.C. to Whitehorse could be discontinued pending a review by the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Greyhound files to end bus service in Yukon and Northern B.C.

‘The status quo is no longer sustainable’

Greyhound Canada has filed an application with the British Columbia Passenger Transportation Board to end all its runs in northern B.C, including the Dawson Creek, B.C., to Whitehorse route.

If approved, the move would end Greyhound bus service in the territory. The application was filed Aug. 10. It’s unknown how long the review process will take.

Greyhound Canada spokesperson Wendy Cumming confirmed that, if approved, the decision would not only mean no bus service between Whitehorse and Dawson Creek, but would also end a direct route by bus between Whitehorse and Vancouver.

“This decision is a regrettably unavoidable response to a challenging transportation environment that is characterized by diminishing ridership, escalating costs and increased competition from publicly subsidized services,” the company said in a recent statement.

“Despite significant efforts over the past several years to reduce costs as well as other measures to adapt to the market, the status quo is no longer sustainable.”

Ridership has declined by 51 per cent on the affected routes, the company said.

“The situation has come to a head, however, and despite a long-standing series of corrective measures and discussions with regulatory officials, the reality is that we can no longer operate the unsustainable routes, and we are proposing changes that will make other B.C. routes more viable,” Greyhound senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick said in the press release.

The company is continuing discussions with provincial and federal officials regarding viable options for transportation in rural areas, Kendrick said.

Yukon Minister of Highways and Public Works, Richard Mostyn, was unavailable to comment by press time. Cabinet spokesperson Janine Workman said the minister is having a meeting with Greyhound sometime next week to discuss the issue.

Roger Veilleux, a recently-retired Greyhound Canada driver who worked the Whitehorse to Fort Nelson route for 16 years, said the move doesn’t come as a surprise to him.

“I could see it coming. For the last six to seven years, you could see it declining more and more… everything was going downhill… they’ve been bleeding money for a long time,” he said.

Veilleux said that ridership has steadily been decreasing.

“In the ‘80s and ‘90s, we used to have two buses coming out of here.… Now there’s barely five or six people on a run,” he said.

“It will definitely change things for people on the highway.”

If it is approved, the end of the service will affect lodges that sometimes rely on the bus to bring vehicle parts in from Fort Nelson to visitors who are stranded. It will also affect people who have accidents or get stranded on the highway for one reason or another, he said.

“The worst is, sometimes I’d pick up a family whose car flipped over or broke down or something…. They’re in trouble now (if that happens),” he said. “Outside of the bus, you’re stuck.”

This is exactly what happened to Whitehorse resident Eva Holland. Holland was coming back up from Vancouver a few years ago after buying a new vehicle. She hit a hail storm, she said, and ended up sliding off the road, totalling the car. A couple drove her into Fort Nelson, and the next day she took a bus back up to Whitehorse.

“I was able to take the Greyhound home the next day. My only other choice would have been for someone else to to drive 12 hours to come get me… or else spend a whole bunch of money to fly,” she said.

Holland said it cost her about $130 to take the bus back.

According to the Greyhound online booking system, if you were to purchase a ticket online between Whitehorse and Dawson Creek on Friday, Sept. 1, it would cost you $285 one way and take nearly 20 hours. If you were to book a few days in advance and leave Sept. 4 it would cost $203.

If you took the Greyhound on the same day from Whitehorse to Vancouver, it would cost $265. If you went all the way to Toronto, it would cost $355.

A spokesperson for Greyhound Canada was not able to answer why the prices are so similar when the distance is so much greater by press time.

Greyhound Canada said in its statement that, if approved, the changes are expected to take effect sometime in 2018.

“There are no impacts (or) service changes pending what regulators have to say,” said Cumming via email on behalf of Greyhound Canada. “No service changes will occur in 2017.”

The Victoria to Nanaimo, Prince George to Prince Rupert, Prince George to Valemony and Prince George to Dawson Creek routes are also on the chopping block.

With files from Canadian Press

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com