The Greyhound Canada Transportation Corporation, a subsidiary of British rail and bus company FirstGroup, is currently applying to the BC Passenger Transportation Board to reduce east-west trips through our region from two a day to one. The British corporation (it's a sign of the times that Canadian buses are run by a British company with a famous American brand name) cites low ridership as the reason for this request. It needs provincial approval to cut back its schedule as the provision of bus service is seen as being done in the public interest.
What's that you say? Who cares? Well, actually, we all should. There are a couple of compelling reasons why cutting bus service through the West Kootenay is a really bad idea.
First, bus transport is very important for the poor, the old, and sick. There are a lot of people out there who either can't afford to maintain a car or who have physical or medical/mental infirmities (or ethical qualms, but more of that later) that prevent them from driving a car. They deserve the right to travel as much as anyone else. Many people in our area need to travel to Vancouver and Kelowna for medical appointments and have no other way of getting there. To erode bus service is to deny these people an important and even essential support service.
Next, buses are green. I know you don't want to think about this, but taking the bus to Kelowna is morally superior to driving one's Subaru. Most of us think of riding the bus to Calgary something beneath us (come on, when was the last time you or I took that shopping trip to Kelowna via Greyhound?) it's actually a very green form of transportation. We will look at this sort of service with new eyes once gas hits $2.00/litre. It would be a shame if it was gone before then.
Finally, bus transport is spiritually and aesthetically superior. Despite our Bon Jovi-ish mythos of individual motorized transport (“I'm a cowboy/On a steel horse I ride”) riding the bus is actually a superior experience to spending hour after hour hunched over a steering wheel pretending you're a cowboy. On a bus you can read books, watch movies, and sleep. You can get up and walk around and even do some yoga. It's not a bad thing.
It's a shame that as we all chant the green mantra, one of the greenest services in our region is under threat thanks to under use.
The good news is, we can all make our voices heard on this matter if we so choose. British Columbians who feel cutting Greyhound service through our region will hurt members of our community are encouraged to provide comments to the Transportation Board before June 17, 2009.
Write to the BC Passenger Transportation Board, Box 9850 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, B.C. V8W 9T5 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Please quote Application # X71-09 in your correspondence.