The reduction of bus service connecting Powell River with Vancouver will have a severe impact on many people who travel this route without resorting to the use of cars [“Bus service between Powell River and Vancouver to be reduced,” June 27]. The proposed service reduction will leave our community without service for eight months of the year.
Under the application to the Passenger Transportation Board, the Sunshine Coast Connector service could also be reduced from daily to three times per week during the four months it will operate.
The intercity bus industry has experienced a shakeup over the last few years. It has become increasingly difficult to operate these services on all but the most heavily populated routes. Ebus and other commercial operators have stepped up to fill the void left by Greyhound on highly used travel routes, however, many rural markets have been left without service.
In many cases BC Transit has stepped up to provide service. This model is the best hope for providing bus service on the Powell River/Vancouver route.
The last service review of the Powell River Transit system was done in 2015. The major finding of that review was that people wanted more service and increased connections with BC Ferries on the Stillwater route. Most of the proposed service improvements to the rural system were targeted for that route.
At the time of the review the Malaspina Coach Lines service was still operating. For that reason, BC Transit concluded that developing BC Transit/BC Ferries connections was not needed.
For some reason the next expansion to the Powell River rural transit system will not include any improvements to the Stillwater route or any improved connections with BC Ferries. Transit funding will be directed to other areas.
On the lower coast, there is frequent, convenient transit service connecting Sechelt and areas to the south with BC Ferries at Langdale. Translink provides good service to ferry passengers through a transit exchange integrated with Horseshoe Bay Terminal.
In the light of the Sunshine Coast Connector contraction of services, the BC Transit routes on the Sunshine Coast should be expanded to provide good transit linkages with BC Ferries. By establishing schedules between Sechelt and Earls Cove, and Saltery Bay and Powell River, that are coordinated with the ferry schedules, there would be enough demand from the combination of local riders and ferry passengers to support the service.
Providing transit choices to get people out of cars and onto transit is a critical part of an overall strategy to combat climate change. A united effort of the local governments of the Sunshine Coast, BC Transit, BC Ferries and the government of BC is required. It looks very much like we have until September to get this job done.