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Penticton  

Greyhound bus cuts official

Greyhound made official on Wednesday that the company is dropping its bus routes through many rural communities across the Okanagan, after receiving approval from the province's Passenger Transportation Board.

The extent of the cuts also includes all routes through Northern B.C., on Vancouver Island and various other main routes across the province.

Greyhound will be changing its route from Osoyoos to Vancouver to go through Kelowna instead of the Similkameen — eliminating service in Keremeos, Hedley, Princeton, Eastgate and Manning Park. 

Further north in the region, Greyhound is also doing away with its route from Kelowna to Kamloops, which eliminates stops in Oyama, Falkland, Westwold and Monte Lake.

The cuts will come into effect on May 31.

The company applied to the PTB for the route changes late last summer, and said the affected routes have had a 51 per cent drop in ridership since 2010.

“We regret having to do this and appreciate the (PTB's) acknowledgement of the difficult circumstances under which we’ve been operating over the past several years,” Stuart Kendrick said, senior vice president of Greyhound Canada.

The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen lobbied for months about the "urgent need" to maintain long-haul bus service for its rural residents.

With its own bus route cuts imminent, Greyhound proposed that the provincial government create a "connecting communities fund," for another private bus company that might be interested.

The fund proposes to create a privatized rural bus service for participating municipalities.

The Ministry of Transportation didn't rule out the possibility of creating that service, but indicated it would wait for the PTB's decision on Greyhound's proposed cuts before making any decision.

A full list of the route changes announced by Greyhound on Wednesday can be found here.

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