New Kelowna-Vancouver bus route off to slow start

Ebus says business must pick up if service is to continue ‘long term’

Greyhound’s replacement for passenger bus service between Kelowna, Vancouver and Kamloops is not off the roaring start the operators of Ebus had hoped.

After the first two weeks of operation, the company that runs Ebus said while it expected it may take some time to attract business, sales will have to pick up if the service is to continue into the future.

“If levels stay as they are, it will be a challenge to be around long-term,” said John Stepovy, director of business development with Ebus.

He said currently, passengers are buying tickets just a few days ahead of travel.

“It takes a little while for people to know what service is out there and if it will be around (lon-term),” said Stepovy. “It’s a matter of building trust.”

But from the company’s point of view, that will need to happen sooner rather than later and ticket sales will have to pick up.

RELATED: Greyhound replacement ready to roll between Kelowna and Vancouver

Stepovy said while some buses have been quite full on the two Kelowna routes, other have only had a handful of passengers on board.

Ebus runs two buses per day in each direction between Kelowna and Vancouver and Kelowna and Kamloops.

Stepovy said the company has had a few “hiccups” since starting its service Oct. 31, including late arrivals and departures due to heavy traffic in both the Vancouver and Kelowna areas. Adjustments will be made to schedules to avoid some of that traffic. The revised schedules should be released in the next few weeks.

“The new schedules will better reflect traffic in Kelowna and Vancouver,” he said.

Ebus, owned by Alberta-based Pacific Western Group of Companies, replaced Greyhound on the Kelowna-Vancouver and Kelowna-Kamloops routes at the end of October after Greyhound cut all its Western Canada service with the exception of the route between Vancouver and Seattle. That route is operated by Greyhound in Washington State.

The Ebus service between Kelowna and Vancouver includes stops in Merritt, Hope, Abbotsford, Surrey and Richmond. The Kelowna-Kamloops route includes a stop in Vernon.

Stepovy said the company is close to securing a pick-up and drop-off location in West Kelowna, and is working with the City of Kelowna to find a second pick-up and drop-off location in the city, one closer to the downtown core than its current stop at the Kelowna airport.

He said while the airport location would continue to be used, having a downtown location was one of the more frequent requests it has received from riders in the first few weeks of operation.

Unlike Greyhound, Ebus will not use buildings at its stops, instead operating more like conventional transit with simple curbside pick-up and drop-off locations.

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