01/18/2013 15:54 EST | Updated 03/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Northern bus route cuts conflict with Missing Women recommendations

The Mayor of Smithers says Greyhound's cuts to its northern bus routes goes against a key recommendation in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry's final report, and says the government may need to step in to ensure basic levels of transportation service.

Greyhound Canada announced Thursday that it would be reducing bus service on 15 major routes, including service along Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George, which would be cut by nearly 40 per cent.

"This is disappointing news for so many communities in northern B.C." Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach said.

Better public transit options in the north, especially along Highway 16, was one of 63 key recommendations made by Commissioner Wally Oppal in his final report to the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

Between 1969 and 2006, at least 18 women have been killed or have gone missing, presumably while hitchhiking, along Highway 16, which is sometimes referred to as the Highway of Tears.

A need to replace service

Bachrach says people in the north need more bus service, not less, and that it's now up to government leaders to respond to that need.

"When you are driving the highway you can see people hitchhiking and you understand on an intuitive level that people need to get between communities.

"So I really think there is a role for municipal government and provincial government in coming up with a workable solution," he said.

Bachrach said that bus service is not a luxury, and that he hopes public transportation will become an issue in the May 2013 provincial election.

"As community leaders we need to step up and ensure that everyone in our communities has access to safe, affordable transportation," he said.