Bus line serving Powell River to operate on seasonal basis

Passenger Transportation Board find in favour of reduced service

Bus service from Powell River to Langdale Terminal will now operate on a seasonal basis.

Sunshine Coast Connector operations manager Dmitry Tyunin said buses will be running from December 20, 2019, to January 5, 2020, from March 16 to 27, 2020, and from May 15 to September 15, 2020.

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The intercity bus service has been authorized to modify its year-round licence to operating on a seasonal licence by the provincial Passenger Transportation Board (PTB). In a decision dated October 16, 2019, the PTB ruled in favour of an application by Sunshine Coast Connector to reduce the year-round service to a seasonal service that must, at a minimum, run from May 15 to September 15 each year with three round trips per week.

The bus line serves the communities of Powell River, Earls Cove, Garden Bay, Pender Harbour, Madeira Park, Halfmoon Bay, Sechelt, Wilson Creek and Gibsons, as well as the Langdale ferry terminal.

Sunshine Coast Connector applied for reduction in operation from 12 to four months due to a “challenging transportation environment that is characterized by declining ridership, increased competition from subsidized passenger transportation services, the new entry of ultra-low-cost carriers and increased car travel,” according to the PTB licence application decision.

The written decision stated that most of the bus line’s passengers (up to 71 per cent) use the bus service from Powell River to Langdale between May and September. For the remainder of the year, only 29 per cent of its passengers use the service. The decision states that statements of income and retained earnings for 2017 and 2018 indicate severe to moderate net losses.

The PTB panel found that submissions did not persuasively show a public need at a level that can sustain a commercial service in the off-season.

“The panel is aware that certain residents in the Sunshine Coast area will be negatively impacted by this amendment,” stated the judgment. “However, it is of the view that on balance, it is in the broader public interest to maintain some level of seasonal service on the scheduled route, even with the inconveniences and limited transportation options, than to force Sunshine Coast Connector to abandon the service altogether due to continued operating losses. As a result, the panel finds that the level of public need is not sufficient for Sunshine Coast Connector to sustain a year-round service, and approves the amendment requested.”

The panel stated it accepts that the company has been losing money and is unable to sustain continued net losses.

“The ridership numbers are not positive,” the panel stated. “The panel takes the view, therefore, after reviewing overall financial viability and health of the connector, that some preservation of the route, even on a seasonal basis, was important, as opposed to the potential of losing the entire service.”

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