Fewer people have been crossing through the Sumas-Huntingdon border crossing in recent years. File photo

Why has bus traffic disappeared from one B.C. border crossing?

Number of buses crossing into the United States at Sumas down 80 per cent over last decade

The cars are still plentiful at the Huntingdon-Sumas border crossing. The motorhomes and trains too. And more trucks ventured into the United States last year through the port than ever before.

But the buses are all but gone, a phenomenon noticed by few but indicative of a couple major trends in British Columbia’s tourism industry.

In 2007, a total of 63,318 bus passengers on 1,974 buses made their way through the Sumas crossing, according to U.S. government figures. Everyday, an average of five buses crossed the border in Abbotsford.

Just a decade later, and that number has plummeted. Last year, just 345 buses, carrying 9,567, crossed the border. That’s a decline of more than 80 per cent. Last August saw just a measly seven buses cross the border into the United States.

The decrease has been slow and steady over the past decade. In 2010, three years after the 2007 high mark, bus traffic had been cut in half. But it didn’t stop there. Nearly every year year saw major drops in bus traffic; 2017’s figure was almost half that of 2015.

Some other major ports have seen drops in bus traffic too, but none as large as that of Sumas; and the busiest crossing on the border, Peace Arch at Blaine, Wash., has seen no major change in the number of buses passing through.

Several factors have likely combined to reduce the bus load here, according to Tourism Abbotsford’s Craig Nichols and Abbotsford Duty Free general manager Paul Dickinson.

Nichols suggested that the opening of four new casinos in the Fraser Valley between 2007 and 2012 may have led Washington State casino operators to cut buses they had been running from Canada.

He also noted a general decline in the group travel business over the past 10 years.

Dickinson, meanwhile, said so-called Open Skies policies introduced between 2006 and 2012 resulted in more flights from Asian countries landing at Vancouver International Airport.

Tourists from those countries once flew into Seattle, then up through Vancouver and, after often taking a cruise, looped through the Rockies and crossed back into the United States through Abbotsford.

The dollar’s rise and fall too has played a part, Dickinson said the end of the GST rebate program for tour operators, along with the general business of the crossing may also have had an impact.

But the drop in bus traffic hasn’t been mirrored in other vehicle types, nor at other crossings. Although vehicle traffic has fallen from its peak five years ago, personal vehicle traffic in 2017 was nearly identical to 2016.

Truck traffic has risen steadily, with just shy of 160,000 trucks passing through the border. That makes the crossing the second-busiest for truck traffic in B.C., with only the Peace Arch crossing at Blaine, Wash. seeing more trucks: around 370,000 in total last year.

Untitled infographic
Infogram


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

#MRvotes2018: Morden elected mayor in Maple Ridge

At least three newcomers to council.

#PMvotes2018: Dingwall elected mayor in Pitt Meadows as turnout up 10 per cent

His team of supporters also elected as incumbents Becker and Elkerton voted out.

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Who won and who didn’t in the Lower Mainland votes

A look at the region’s mayoral races, starting with Doug McCallum coming back to win in Surrey

Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

Two-part ballots now being mailed to all registered voters

Okanagan parachute accidents kills American

Man, 34, dies in skydiving accident Saturday near Westwold, between Vernon and Kelowna

Man who died at BC Ferries terminal shot himself as police fired: watchdog

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

The online auction features 22 items from Hawking, including his doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe, with the sale scheduled for 31 October and 8 November.

In Khashoggi case: Saudi calls, ‘body double’ after killing

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom announced early Monday, to express condolences for the death of the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal’s entourage.

Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur waives right to preliminary hearing

Bruce McArthur, a 67-year-old self-employed landscaper, has been ordered to stand trial on eight counts of first-degree murder.

Most Read