A miracle is needed for Merrit Shuttle Bus Services Ltd. to provide passenger service in the Cariboo.
After failing to meet their February 28th deadline by the Passenger Transportation Board to have at least two buses licensed and registered, the company applied for another extension until May 1st.
Director of Operations Gene Field told MyCaribooNow Tuesday there is no way he can get the money or the buses ready by 4:30 pm Friday, March 8.
“Unfortunately I think Merritt Shuttle Bus is done,” Field said.
“I hate to say it because I kind of wanted to fight to the end but I wasn’t expecting them to give four or five days to get the buses that we need.”
Field said they had a major set back within the company with the unexpected death of his business partner last week Thursday.
He said he is hoping that some other bus company will step up and take over to provide the service for those that need it most.
“All the B.C government had to do was maybe throw two million dollars into a fund and offer an incentive for people to start up a company that they could be funded for two years,” Field said.
“It wouldn’t cost that much to get a shuttle bus or even a small bus to do that, and then if they funded them for two years that’s plenty of time for them to start making some money and they [Province] could have had all of these routes pretty much filled. The government decided not to and so did Interior Health-I even went to them and told them about the medical people that needed rides and they said sorry I can’t help you out.”
Field said the only obstacle they had before the death of his business partner was getting an investment of $50,000 for the buses.
“My local community futures would have chipped in the rest and BDC said they were going to help too so that’s all we pretty much needed to get started so that’s why I was hoping at least the government would kick in something but they decided not to,” he said.
“Not only did they let me down but there were 41 Aboriginal communities that were along our route that were originally promised bus service by the federal government and of course they reneged on that, and then we figured with the provincial government that they would at least try to compensate and provide bus service too but they decided not to.”
Without naming Merritt Shuttle Bus Services, Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said in a media release Wednesday, Feb. 20 for reasons no one can understand, a company was given a license even though they have no vehicles to provide the service.
“This sham of a license is blocking anyone else from actually providing service and the minister keeps giving the company extensions,” Barnett said.
“I know of a very reliable company that would gladly provide the service but they can’t do anything as long as the license is tied up. It is time for this unacceptable issue to be resolved and bus transportation restored.”
(Editor’s Note: MyCaribooNow hopes to provide a further update to this story Friday afternoon)