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Smaller B.C. bus service prepares to replace Greyhound

A B.C. bus company wants to modify its service for the post-Greyhound world, running from Nelson to Kelowna and back six days a week with stops along the way for passengers who have reserved a ride online.

Silver City Stagelines’ service plan is a glimpse of the future of bus service in Western Canada as Greyhound gets set to wind up its familiar coach service at the end of October. A long-time contractor with Greyhound, Silver City would use a 12-passenger Mercedes Sprinter van, with an online reservation model to determine where it stops along the way.

In its licence amendment application to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board, Silver City says it wants to drop its three-times-a-week service between Trail and Castlegar. The new service would be a minimum six days a week from Nelson to Kelowna, with stops for reserved passengers only at Castlegar, Trail, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Midway and Rock Creek.

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“Silver City Stagelines Ltd. has been operating an interline service in partnership with Greyhound Canada since 2003,” owner Fritz Keller said in his submission to the Passenger Transportation Board. “Greyhound’s recent announcement that they will no longer be serving Western Canada effective Oct. 31, 2018 will leave many rural towns with no bus service to larger centres.

“I deeply understand how valuable it is to have a reliable means of transportation from the rural towns in the West Kootenays to Kelowna.”

Inter-city bus services can only operate with a licence from the Passenger Transportation Board, which also regulates taxi licences in B.C. communities. Silver City is seeking an exception to the board’s rule of providing scheduled service to each stop, stopping along the way on only a “pre-booked or reservation-required basis.”

Tom Fletcher

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