John Wilson, president and CEO, The Wilson’s Group of Companies. (Black Press Media file photo)

John Wilson, president and CEO, The Wilson’s Group of Companies. (Black Press Media file photo)

COLUMN: Bus companies at risk as revenue drops 95 per cent, no help in sight

John Wilson is president and CEO, The Wilson’s Group of Companies

Motor coach companies in B.C., and across Canada, have been left struggling as they near 10 months of operating at a 95 per cent reduction in revenues. While other modes of transportation have received subsidies and financial relief from the federal and provincial governments, privately owned motor coach and intercity bus operators have received nothing to date in direct relief efforts. Unfortunately for many of these companies, time is running out as they risk permanent closures in the next two to three months without further financial aid. What effect will the loss of one of Canada’s most popular and reliable modes of transportation have on British Columbia?

Economic impact

Motor Coach Canada reports that each group travelling via motor coach generates $10,000 to $15,000 per day in economic activity and spending in our local economy.

Connecting communities

When Greyhound exited the Western Canadian Marketplace in 2018, many of B.C.’s urban and rural communities felt as though they had lost a sense of connectivity. Privately owned motor coach companies across B.C. stepped up to the plate to take over some of these routes, however, many are once again at risk of being without service. According to Greyhound Canada, they serviced 360 stops in the western provinces, intercity busing being the only service available to 300 of those stops.

In your community

When natural disasters strike, such as the devastating wildfires in B.C.’s Interior, motor coach carriers are there to provide transportation to the masses when evacuations and firefighters are required. They have also been used to safely transport volunteer relief workers, armed forces, RCMP, fire rescue workers, safety and medical equipment and supplies.

Labour movement

Industrial projects require thousands of skilled trades to be shuttled in and out of camps on a regular basis using motor coach services. Many of these workers also permanently reside outside of the community in which they work, some of which have no other accessibility other than intercity bus and motor coach service.

Carbon effect

Every person who chooses motor coach travel instead of driving alone reduces their carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 85 per cent. Moreover, each motor coach has the potential to remove as many as 55 autos from the highway, reducing congestion. In fact, even when not filled, motor coaches have the smallest carbon emission factor of any major motorized vehicle.

The BC Motor Coach Coalition strongly believes that an economically sensitive group of British Columbians are at risk of suffering undue hardship from massive reductions in service without further government support for the motor coach industry. The time has come for direct funds to British Columbians’ hardest hit industries before it is too late.

John Wilson is president and CEO of The Wilson’s Group of Companies.

Transportation

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