As Greyhound plans to cut routes in the country, majority of Canadians would like the federal and provincial governments to support a government-run rural bus service, according to research by Angus Reid Institute.
The study found six-in-ten Canadians (60%) expressed support for a rural bus service funded by the federal government, and slightly more (64%) were supportive of a provincially funded service.
According to the survey, more than half of all Canadians adults have taken a Greyhound bus in their lives, although those living in Western provinces are more likely to be affected by the withdrawal of the services.
In fact, the support for government intervention on rural transportation comes not only from frequent users of Greyhound Canada’s bus services, but also from those who have been on a Greyhound bus.
Greyhound is leaving but its imminent departure has also created an extra pressure on government bodies to accelerate plans for a regional transit.
A bus connecting Squamish to Vancouver is an idea whose time has come and it may be a reality next year, according to Mayor Patricia Heintzman.
“We’re working together on governance and funding with an eye to implementing regional transit by fall 2019 as per BC Transit’s schedule. The Greyhound news further highlights the need to move this issue forward with the provincial government proactively to determine a funding and governance model that works for everyone,” Heintzman said.
She said the district continues to work with BC Transit, the Sea to Sky partners and the province to press for a sustainable and affordable regional transit route that would link Squamish to Vancouver and Whistler. She said the local governments as well as Squamish and Lil’wat Nations are aligned and motivated for that.
As desirable as a regional transit is, it’s an expensive proposition for Squamish at $6 million a year, says councillors and mayoral candidate Susan Chapelle.
“As far as funding and working with BC transit for regional transit, unless we had a full carbon tax or gas tax from the province, regional transportation is too expensive for a community of our size,” she said.
Whistler to Squamish, however, was completely possible she added.
“It was previously shared in our budget between the two communities. It was viable, with full buses taking workers and tourists back and forth. This service is 100 per cent. BC transit and would require no infrastructure, just political will between Whistler politicians and Squamish to fund the service,” Chapelle said.
She said too many accidents have caused tragic deaths between our two communities, mostly from commuters. “The expense of car accident prevention would more than fund a service between our communities.”