08/09/2012 07:20 EDT | Updated 10/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Bus cuts bode ill for businesses

The impending shut-down of Acadian Lines in the Maritimes is part of a larger loss of transportation services that could have an effect on the local economy and culture.

"This is going to leave the Maritimes with really no public transportation at all," said David Jeanes, president of Transport Action Canada, a national group that follows trends in public transportation.

Ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine lost its provincial government funding three years ago. Just this week, HRM council reduced late-night ferry service across Halifax Harbour.

Two decades ago, Via Rail cut its service in half in the region, and it's about to cut what is left of that service in half again. And there is already talk of more cuts next year.

Jeanes says in many places across the country, cuts to inter-city bus service eat away at personal mobility, and at reliable freight service. Buses regularly carry auto and machinery parts, personal packages, and life-and-death supplies such as blood products bound for rural hospitals.

Paul Doucet, a spokesperson with Canadian Blood Services, said he hopes his organization won't be affected by the loss of the bus service. He said Acadian Lines is just one of several ways they transport blood, including couriers and their own fleet of trucks, so they should be able to continue to get products where they're going, for a comparable price.

Jeanes said a lot of businesses won't be so lucky.

"With the buses not stopping at all, or just stopping at a highway intersection outside of town, that doesn't work anymore," said Jeanes. "So it's really devastating for businesses in the centres of the smaller settlements."

On a social level, Jeanes said, the cuts are particularly difficult for people who rely on buses to get to university, to medical appointments, and to visit friends and family.