Acadian Coach Lines will increase service to what they call four “corridor” cities–Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John and Halifax. The corridor routes between these cities will either have no stops or limited stops along their routes. The company says that their proposal is aimed at increasing their ridership and reducing their financial losses.
Ella Henry, President of the St. Thomas University Students’ Union and an intervenor at the EUB hearings, says “the decision not to allow Acadian Lines to completely eliminate service on several key routes in New Brunswick is certainly a victory for students and others who rely on public transportation. It is a reflection of the number and wide variety of organizations and individuals that participated in the Energy and Utilities Board Hearing. However, it is concerning that the EUB only seems willing or able to fulfill its function to uphold the public interest in the face of substantial public pressure rather than in all its decisions.”
The Conservation Council says the EUB decision to permit Acadian Coach Lines to reduce service to regions of the province demonstrates the need for government involvement in providing public transportation. The environmental group wants the provincial government to establish a Crown agency to develop a public transportation network for New Brunswick over the next four years.
Raphael Shay, the Energy Coordinator at the Conservation Council, is concerned by the provincial government’s lack of movement on its commitments to public transportation.
“The Premier committed to implementing a public transportation strategy in his 2007 Climate Action Plan. This was followed by a commitment at the 2008 New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers’ Meeting to double public transportation use by 2020. Manitoba spent $3.12 million this year on ensuring citizens are well-served by a network of buses. Why is the government stalling?” said Shay
The Conservation Council notes that transportation represented 13.6% of the average Canadian household expenditures in 2008, whereas in New Brunswick it represented 17%. On June 8th, the EUB ruled in favour of Acadian Coach Lines increasing their fare by an average of 2.0%, before taxes.
The Conservation Council has requested provincial funds for public interest intervenors in light of the EUB making decisions about rate applications and capital expenditure proposals that are substantially different from the demands of environmental and anti-poverty groups. substantively different decisions over rate applications and capital expenditure proposals than their group and anti-poverty groups.
Acadian Coach Lines is owned by the Montreal-based Groupe Orleans Express Inc.