Threatened changes to Greyhound service in the Okanagan-Similkameen — including the elimination of service along Hwy. 3 — will take effect this spring.
However, service in Osoyoos will remain intact, at least for the time being.
Last fall, Greyhound Canada applied to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board to eliminate and reduce service across the province, citing decreased ridership and profits.
Wednesday, the transportation board accepted those applications.
“The biggest change for the Okanagan was the application to come off of Hwy. 3,” Stuart Kendrick, senior vice president of Greyhound Canada, said Wednesday.
Stops along Hwy. 3, including Kaledan, Keremeos, Hedley, Princeton and Manning Park, will be abandoned as of June 1, when Greyhound ceases service along that route.
People traveling from Hope to Kelowna will travel via Hwy. 5 and Hwy. 97C instead.
“The reason is the ridership levels have been at such a low level over the last several years,” said Kendrick. “We’ve made several applications over the years to reduce frequency along that route. Unfortunately, this location just isn’t viable long-term, and hasn’t been for a while.”
Kendrick said he regrets the need to eliminate service along the Hope-Princeton Highway.
“I think it’s important for the people of these locations to talk to their municipal governments and advocate for the provincial government to provide some long-term funding for Northern B.C. and the Interior,” he said.
“Any private carrier cannot sustain the ridership levels that we’re seeing and remain viable. It needs some sort of assistance.”
Greyhound Canada has also received approval to reduce the minimum frequency required for several routes in the Okanagan, including from Kamloops to Kelowna, Kelowna to Penticton, Vancouver to Osoyoos and Kelowna to the Alberta border.
“That application was to allow us some flexibility if we needed to reduce the current frequency that we operate,” said Kendrick. “Hopefully we don’t have to.”
The minimum number of required trips along those routes has been reduced to four per week, two trips each way.
Prior to the application, the minimum frequency of trips between Kelowna and Penticton was 28 per week.
Any changes to the frequency of those routes will require 14-days notice.
B.C. transportation minister Claire Trevena said Greyhound’s decision to eliminate and reduce service along rural routes will leave people vulnerable, particularly Indigenous communities, women, seniors, children and those living with disabilities.
“In the coming weeks, I will be speaking to local elected officials, First Nations and others affected by Greyhound’s upcoming service changes, so we can deliver long-term solutions that work for everyone,” she said.
Greyhound’s service to Osoyoos arrives from Kelowna (with stops along Hwy. 97) at 8:45 a.m. Mondays to Thursdays. On Friday through Sunday, the bus arrives at 2:15 p.m.
Buses depart Osoyoos one hour after arrival, returning the way they came.
Last November. Greyhound moved its Osoyoos depot to Nk’Mip Corner from the former Destination BC building — bringing back its packaging service with the change.
— with files from Penticton Herald