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

Surrey-based podcast focuses on Canadian true crime

Corus Entertainment’s Curiouscast picks up Dark Poutine

North Delta’s Jalen and Tyson Philpot turning heads in Calgary

Former Seaquam Seahawks making their mark in their rookie season with University of Calgary Dinos

NHL’s Brent Seabrook backs Harvie for Delta mayor

“I support Harvie’s commitment to delivering key investments for sport and recreation facilities.”

White Rock ‘candidates’ discuss water, highrises at mock debate

White Rock South Surrey Stroke Recovery Branch members debated civic issues Thursday

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Man shot to death while using Lower Mainland ATM

Police believe incident on Thursday night to be targeted

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

B.C. teen gives away tickets to Ellen Degeneres show, plans O Canada welcome

The Grade 9 student wanted to give away tickets in the spirit of inclusivity

Most Read