A plan to save bus service between Powell River and Vancouver proposed by Sechelt-based Coast Connector Ltd. would enlist the involvement of BC Transit and BC Ferries. After filing an application on June 20 with the Passenger Transportation Board to reduce its operation from 12 months per year to four, Coast Connector co-owner Dmitry Tyunin said the business had received plenty of feedback from local residents.
“We have received numerous emails and messages asking not to leave the isolated community of Powell River and Pender Harbour region without the bus service,” said Tyunin in an email addressed to City of Powell River mayor and council, Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons, BC Transit and the Peak.
“After consulting with residents, investors and other parties we believe [we] have found a way to continue the bus service between Powell River and Langdale,” he added.
The proposed scheme would have Sunshine Coast Connector continuing its route between Langdale and Earls Cove ferry terminals with BC Transit buses providing pickup and drop-off service between Powell River and Saltery Bay ferry terminal three days per week during low season and every day during the summer high season.
“Currently, BC Transit offers bus service to and from Saltery Bay upon request,” said Tyunin. “We just need to make it happen on a regular basis to line up the BC Transit bus and Sunshine Coast Connector.”
In the letter, Tyunin goes on to suggest that eliminating ferry fares for Coast Connector passengers during low season months would help attract more riders during the time when the bus business struggles to remain profitable.
“Most of our passengers for that period are seniors who are already entitled for a free ride, so there will not be a huge financial burden for BC Ferries,” he added.
City of Powell River councillor Maggie Hathway said reliable public transportation to and from the city is an issue for the entire region.
“It is absolutely an essential service,” she added. “Not everybody can drive or afford to fly.”
On Thursday, July 11, representatives from the city, qathet Regional District and Tla’amin Nation are meeting, said Hathaway, and she has requested the issue of bus service to be added to the meeting’s agenda.
“We need to expand our regional transportation committee and look at how that service can be provided,” she said. “I don’t think it’s rocket science, but it’s not that easy with BC Transit, you can’t just phone them and say ‘Can you put on a bus service.’ They want to do all these studies.”
Simons said he is also actively working to keep the service running.
“I will be meeting with the minister about the service we need,” he said. “I will be engaging with local government and BC Transit as well. This is obviously a very important bus route for people going to or coming from the Lower Mainland, but for people connecting to communities along the route as well.”
Coast Connector began offering service between Powell River and the Lower Mainland in mid-2016 after Malaspina Coach Lines ceased operations in September 2015.
“We are asking for your active support,” said Tyunin. “To save a very vital bus route for local residents, tourists and visitors.”