[SUMMERSIDE, PE] — The owner of a Summerside-based shuttle service is firing back at lawyers for Acadian Lines who question his plans to operate in New Brunswick.
On Monday, David Anderson made his pitch to the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) to operate Advance Shuttle Service in that province.
The Acadian Lines bus service is opposing the licence application, saying it has exclusive inter-city operating rights in New Brunswick.
During the EUB hearing, one of the company's lawyers questioned whether Anderson's business plan could make money.
"How I do business works, and apparently how they (Acadian Lines) do business doesn't," he said, pointing out that the Acadian Lines service between P.E.I. and New Brunswick lost $2 million last year.
"They're down $2 million, David Anderson is not. They have to make $2 million to pay bills, I don't. I am 100 per cent confident that I could make it work."
Acadian Lines employees have been locked out since December because of an ongoing labour dispute, so the company hasn't had buses on the road for nearly four months.
Anderson said he planned to apply for the license before the lockout, but now New Brunswick needs the shuttle service more than ever.
He said opponents "ridiculed" his business plan because he wants Advance Shuttle to be a reservation service, but no such license currently exists under the New Brunswick Motor Carrier Act.
"That just saves us time and money and keeps our costs down, and obviously saves the environment too — we're not driving a vehicle that doesn't need to be driven," he said. "If they make you operate seven days a week, then there's no passengers that particular day...it's a lot of wasted money."
The Motor Carrier Act, which was put in place in 1937, restricts competitors from coming into the province and taking the best routes. Anderson wants to run two shuttles from the Island, making stops in Port Elgin, Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.
Under its previous ownership, Advance Shuttle had the same licence application denied by the EUB in 2004.
Anderson argues that, because of the lockout, Acadian Lines is not fulfilling its obligation to passengers and is therefore in violation of the Motor Carrier Act.
"They have the monopoly in New Brunswick and that's just not right. It was Acadian Lines who walked out...it's not a strike," he said. "They should have no license to operate in the province. If they do, then theoretically they'd have to reapply. They've certainly proven that they're not making any money in the province, so what makes us think they're coming back?"
The EUB has 30 days to decide whether to approve Anderson's application.