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EDITORIAL – If Greyhound is so essential, maybe we’ll have to pay for it

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An ArmchairMayorca. editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHAT’S THIS WORLD coming to? We’re losing our department stores, the post office is in trouble, newspapers are dying — what’s next?

Rural bus service, that’s what. The B.C. Passenger Transportation Board begins a week of public meetings tonight in northern B.C. to hear what people think of Greyhound Canada’s plans to cut nine more bus routes.

It’s a sure bet the board will hear more of what it’s been hearing for the past several years as Greyhound steadily cuts service. The public isn’t happy about it, and neither are politicians.

Northern B.C. isn’t the only place in the province facing or already dealing with reductions in passenger-bus service between communities. It’s the same everywhere, including Kamloops and the Southern Interior.

The company says ridership is down, operating costs are up, and savings have to come from somewhere. Critics say it’s just poor management, and that the provincial government should do something to stop the bleeding.

But what? Companies are in business to make money, and this biggest of Canadian bus operators has provided an intricate network of moderately priced connections between towns and cities for decades.

For smaller communities in particular, bus service is pretty much essential.

Admittedly, travelling by Greyhound doesn’t put you in the lap of luxury. Its stations are Spartan and — as many travelers are about to rediscover during the upcoming Christmas season, chaotic to say the least when they’re busy.

So, investing in infrastructure might be one option for Greyhound, though doing the opposite of cutbacks clearly isn’t the route the company is on right now.

The provincial government hasn’t come up with any solutions, other than Transportation Minister Claire Trevena talking to several mayors about it.

There might only be one answer anyway — government subsidies. Ordering a private company, even one with social responsibilities, to lose money isn’t the way we do things in a private enterprise economy. If Greyhound’s service really is essential, taxpayers might have to ante up to keep it going.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear twice daily Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5864 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – If Greyhound is so essential, maybe we’ll have to pay for it

  1. Maybe Greyhound needs to start using vehicles more in tune with ridership and start offering more competitive value-added services which include nicer waiting stations. Just directly giving money may not be the most value to the taxpayers…what if Greyhound becomes the shipper of choice of the B.C. Government?

  2. If I remember correctly, once upon a time, Greyhound was granted a monopoly in exchange for servicing the areas that no one else wanted to go to.Now all they do is cry & whine about servicing these areas, and their fares are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. I am also willing to bet that they make very good money on their freight business.

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