No word on shuttle service’s bid to operate in N.B.

As of press time, no decision has been made on David Anderson’s bid to operate a shuttle service in New Brunswick.

Anderson will find out the status of his license application within the next 22 days.

He’s applied to expand his 15-passenger shuttle service, Advanced Shuttle Services, to the province.

The company now offers transportation between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, with stops on several university campuses and routes catered to the passenger.

Last Monday, he presented his case to acquire a license in front of the Energy and Utilities Board, which regulates motor carrier traffic in the province.

“I feel optimistic but I really don’t know what they’re going to come up with,” he said.

The hearing was in Saint John and lasted all day. It included a presentation from Anderson and objections from locked out Acadian Lines workers, Orléans Express (which owns Acadian Lines) and a representative of the Van Angels, a group advocating against the use of 15-passenger vans.

Acadian Lines workers have been locked out since Dec. 2, meaning the province hasn’t had any intercity bus transportation available since then.

The company is opposing the license bid because it wouldn’t be possible for both to be profitable and because the service would use 15-passenger vans, which are unsafe, Orléans Express spokesman Marc-André Varin has said.

In January 2008, seven Bathurst High School basketball players and the wife of their coach were killed when their 15-passenger van collided with a semi-trailer truck.

Some of the mothers of these students started the Van Angels.

“We firmly believe that all passengers requiring a small-group bus service should expect nothing less than the safest mode of transport available,” a presentation the Van Angels gave at the EUB hearing and posted on its website says.

“It took the tragic deaths of seven Bathurst High School students and the coach’s wife to ban the 15-passenger van for student transportation in N.B.

“Are the lives of other people less valuable? A life is precious at any age.”

The presentation also says the EUB would be taking a step backwards by allowing Advanced Shuttle Services to use 15-passenger vans, calling them “death traps.”

Anderson has maintained that he’s offering a different service than Acadian Lines and that his GMC vans are safe.

The manufacturer has added additional security features, he said, and tighter regulations and more frequent inspections could help decrease the number of accidents involving 15-passenger vans.

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