Richard Mostyn, Yukon’s minister of highways and public works, says the Yukon government is not prepared to subsidize Greyhound bus service into the territory. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Greyhound calls for public funds to help rural routes

Call comes as bus company seeks regulatory permission to axe northern routes

Yukon’s minister of highways and public works says the territory is not prepared to subsidize Greyhound bus service into the territory.

British Columbia’s Passenger Transportation Board is in the middle of public meetings related to Greyhound’s application to end five routes, including the one from Dawson Creek to Whitehorse which passes through Teslin and Watson Lake.

Greyhound Canada is calling on the provincial, territorial and federal governments to step in to help pay for rural routes.

Peter Hamel, the company’s regional vice president, said Greyhound believes some of the public money given to jurisdictions by Ottawa to cover transit should be allocated to make rural routes viable.

“We’re advocating that the people (who) have access to the money through the federal funding need to have some sort of … fund which protects the rural communities because they just don’t have the voice that the urban centres have. The urban centres have all the pull.”

The money would be accessible via an open bid system and could go to other businesses looking to run bus routes, not just to Greyhound, Hamel said. “But we certainly be one of the players for sure,” he added.

The company is pitching its proposal to the federal government as well as to the provinces and territories, Hamel said. It hasn’t met with Yukon officials yet.

Yukon Minister of Highways and Public Works Richard Mostyn said he hasn’t heard enough detail about Greyhound’s proposal to comment.

“B.C. is different than this jurisdiction. B.C. regulates the buses in province to an extent that we do not here in the territory.”

At this stage, the territory is not prepared to subsidize the bus company, Mostyn said.

“If Greyhound’s not capable of making money off its trips to the territory, we’re not in a position to subsidize something that isn’t making money,” he said.

Mostyn said there haven’t been any conversations about changing the way the territory’s transit money is earmarked.

“Right now as I understand it, that money is being used for transportation across the Yukon already, so it would be changing the model and to this point we haven’t entertained that possibility,” he said.

“I think before we do we’d have to have some really strong conversations with our community partners about what they want to do.”

Yukon communities without Greyhound services outnumber those that periodically get a bus, Mostyn said.

In some of our communities without Greyhound private operators are filling the gap, he said.

“The market will find its level.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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