Greyhound Canada’s planned withdrawal from British Columbia this fall has been described as a loss for Fernie.
Earlier this month, the transport company announced its decision to cease all services to and from the province and almost all of Western Canada, citing declining ridership in rural communities, increasing competition, regulatory constraints and increased car travel.
Tourism Fernie Executive Officer Jikke Gyorki said Greyhound offered passenger and shipping services to Fernie, and its withdrawal would be a loss for the community.
“Although the passenger service schedule was not great timing (arrivals and departures were in the middle of the night), it was still an option for those that were needing to get to Fernie or go elsewhere from Fernie, that was very affordable,” she said.
However, Gyorki believes it will be Fernie’s seasonal residents – not the main tourist markets – that will be impacted by Greyhound’s decision.
In 2014-15, Fernie had an annual visitation of about 307,000 people, most of whom travelled via their own vehicle, according to the Tourism Fernie boss.
“Fernie is a rural community with limited commercial transportation options,” she said.
“If not by their own vehicle, they rent vehicles.
“In winter season there is access to limited airport shuttle services.”
Gyorki did not know how many people rode Greyhound buses to and from Fernie, however, Greyhound Canada reported ridership across the country had nearly halved in eight years.
“Despite best efforts over several years, ridership has dropped nearly 41 per cent across the country since 2010 within a changing and increasingly challenging transportation environment,” said Senior Vice President Stuart Kendrick.
“Simply put, we can no longer operate unsustainable routes.”
On a recent visit to Fernie, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare said the Government valued the affected areas and was working on a plan that would ensure safe transportation throughout the entire province.
“We know that skiers love to pack up a backpack, throw their skis in the bottom of the Greyhound bus and head out to communities like yours, so these are definitely factors that we’re all taking in as we look at solutions and as (Transport) Minister Trevena makes her further announcements,” she said.
Gyorki suggested rideshare companies and Facebook groups, such as Fernie Ride Share, could fill the gap until a long-term solution is found or private enterprise steps in to replace Greyhound.
It’s business as usual until October 31 when all Greyhound Canada routes in B.C. will cease, with the exception of the Vancouver-Seattle service, which is operated by Greyhound Lines Inc. (USA) and BoltBus.