A company that applied for a bus route between Kamloops and Prince George has been denied by the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB).
EBus proposed the route with intermediate stops in Cache Creek, Clinton, 70 Mile House, the District of 100 Mile House, Lac la Hache, Williams Lake, Quesnel and Hixon. The proposal was for three trips per week northbound and three trips per week southbound.
In March 2019, the Board approved a similar route by Gertzen Ventures LTD (GLV), operating as Adventure Charters, which has been operating for four months, offering two trips weekly. The addition of EBus would have brought that up to 5 trips weekly in each direction.
“The panel finds that, at this time, the proposed addition of Route D, could have an injurious and adverse effect on the new ICB [Inter-City Bus] operator and the overall viability of ICB services on the corridor.”
Janna Gertzen, owner of Adventure Charters, said they were very happy with the decision.
“We had put in a protest against the application,” she told Black Press Thursday. “We did not think it was right that the Passenger Transport Board would open up our existing licence to another licence so quickly. It would have meant the demise of our runs without allowing us to properly establish a foothold. If you read the PTB decision on why they rejected the proposal, they definitely took our thoughts and feelings into account.”
The demise of the Adventure Charters runs would also have included their route from Prince George to Surrey, which goes through the Fraser Canyon. It is the only bus company servicing communities along the Canyon, and Adventure Charters manager Randy Gertzen noted that cancelling the route would have left residents high and dry.
“It would have pushed us out of the Fraser Canyon and left that unserviced, because if another bus had been given a licence we would have had to stop,” he said.
“EBus had no intention of going through the Canyon. It’s not where our biggest volume is, but we have a fair number of people who use it in Lytton, Boston Bar, and Hope to get to Surrey. It’s needed, and people are using it. It’s part of the whole package.”
In May of this year the Gertzens started offering their bus services, after receiving final approval in April.
“It’s growing all the time — the Kamloops run is a little slower than the Surrey run for sure, but it’s slowly growing as we’re getting word of the service out there,” Gertzen said.
Among other things, EBus argued its service would differ from GVL because “while GLV uses mini buses that are non-accessible and do not have washrooms, EBus proposes the use of a highway coach with amenities such as seatbelts, accessibility, washroom, wi-fi, coach seating and entertainment options. All the coaches would be supplied with a wheelchair lift to ensure that all customers can use its scheduled services to meet their travel needs.”
Longterm, having wheelchair accessible coaches is something Gertzen said they would like to have.
“Because we started off with existing equipment, it’s not something that we had. Any future buses that we purchase for this run will include the wheelchair lift.”
Presently Adventure Charters offering two round trips per week from Prince George to Kamloops and Prince George to Surrey and everywhere in between.
“As ridership grows we will be adding more days,” Gertzen said.
The PTB did approve Ebus’ other proposed segment with route points in Chase, Sorrento, Salmon Arm, Enderby and Armstrong, mostly along Highway 1 with Kamloops and Vernon, noting that “the applicant has demonstrated a public need to expand service.”
The decision was made on Aug. 22.