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Closure of bus depots part of industry-wide struggle: CEO – BC News – Castanet.net

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Maryanne Titian, 69, says she and her husband John both have diabetes, and he is also waiting on a kidney transplant while she has suffered mild heart attacks.

The couple uses buses to get to medical appointments at least once a month that are hours away.

Since the closure of several bus depots on Vancouver Island this year, they are often left waiting outside in poor weather conditions for hours.

“It’s hard,” Titian said. “My husband and I are both not feeling well, we get sick really easy.”

“This time of year, it’s windy, it’s raining, it’s snowing in some places,” she said.

The closure of bus depots on Vancouver Island is part of a wider decline in services across Canada that are leaving some vulnerable people at risk.

The largest shift came in 2018, when Greyhound Canada announced it was cancelling service in most of Western Canada, citing plunging demand.

The provincial government stepped in to fill some of the gaps in northern British Columbia, including along the so-called Highway of Tears between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

The service BC Bus North, operated by Pacific Western Transportation, now provides transportation along the route where at least 18 women have gone missing or have been murdered, several of whom were last seen hitchhiking. It also serves Valemount, Dawson Creek, Fort. St. John and Fort Nelson.

A hodgepodge of other companies also entered the void left by Greyhound in parts of Western Canada and northern Ontario but haven’t matched the service provided by Greyhound.

While Greyhound announced it was pulling out of the Island months before the rest of Western Canada, its disappearance still has ripple effects on the local bus businesses, the CEO of one company said.

John Wilson of Wilson Group, which operates much of Vancouver Island’s bus services through its companies Wilson’s Transportation and Tofino Bus, said Greyhound played a key role in bringing passengers and freight from across the country.

“That connectivity across the country has stopped,” Wilson said, adding that apart from internal freight services, the company now almost entirely relies on passenger revenue.

Wilson Group is partnering with companies like Ebus, which has taken up and added stops along Greyhound’s Kelowna-Kamloops route, to try to reconnect the Interior with Vancouver and Vancouver Island, but gaps still remain, he said.

Ride sharing services and the consumer’s own decisions to drive are also affecting the bottom line, he said.

To compensate for declining demand, Wilson closed five bus depots this year in Port Alberni, Courtenay, Tofino, Parksville and Port Hardy, he said.

“Unfortunately, we had to make some tough decisions around closing some stations,” Wilson said.

Passengers are now primarily picked up at the curbside, although Wilson said the company is in discussions with some local businesses to allow passengers to wait inside.

Bus companies across North America are facing similar challenges, he said, and eliminating bricks and mortar operations are one of the ways they can reduce overhead without cutting routes.

While online bookings may not be accessible to many seniors or individuals without credit cards, between 80 and 85 per cent of passengers now book online, reducing the need for ticketing agents, he said.

Wilson said the company’s call centre remains open and he encouraged passengers experiencing barriers to reach out directly, adding the company will do its best to accommodate them.

“We definitely think it’s a small minority,” he said. “At the same time, they need to be looked after and we want to look after them. We’re doing the best we can to maintain the service levels as far as our schedules are concerned by reducing our overhead.

But the other option is to reduce runs, which hurts people even more, I think.”

Back in the Interior, the province agreed to provide the BC Bus North service on an interim basis and federal funding covering half the costs expires at the end of March 2021. BC Transit led a competitive procurement process for service providers on the current routes and the request for proposals closed in August.

The Ministry of Transportation said in a statement that the contract is being finalized and additional information will be available in the coming weeks.

There will be no disruption to the current BC Bus North service, it said.

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Union representing Canadian auto workers announces new deal with Ford – Global News

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TORONTO – Unifor says Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd. has agreed to spend nearly $2 billion on its Canadian plants as part of collective bargaining negotiations.

Under the tentative deal, Unifor National President Jerry Dias says $1.95 billion will be invested in Ford’s Canadian plants, including $1.8 billion toward the production of five electric vehicles in Oakville, Ont., and an engine contract that could yield new jobs in Windsor, Ont.

Dias says the 6,300 union workers at Ford will vote on the deal this weekend.

Read more:
Union presidents says Ford will fight for workers affected by GM plant closure

Talks between the union and the automaker came to a head on Monday ahead of a bargaining deadline of 11:59 p.m eastern time.

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Workers had previously voted to support a strike if a deal could not be reached by that deadline, with the future of the Oakville, Ont. plant potentially on the line.

Once agreed to by union members, Ford’s deal on new products lines, shifts, wages, pensions and benefits will set the tone for upcoming talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Tesla slashes the price of the Powerpack by 27% on Battery Day – Electrek

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Tesla has greatly reduced the price of its Powerpack battery system today ahead of its Battery Day event.

Powerpack hasn’t been talked about much lately.

It has been relegated to the background since Tesla introduced the bigger Megapack for utility-scale projects.

However, Tesla is still making the product and it is still being used for many commercial-scale projects, like Electrify America’s charging stations.

Now we’ve learned that Tesla is slashing the price of the Powerpack.

Earlier this year, Electrek reported that Tesla revealed the price of the battery system through its new commercial solar configurator.

At the time, the Powerpack was being sold for $172,000 before incentives and including a commercial inverter.

Now a tipster pointed out to Electrek that Tesla has updated the pricing today, reducing the Powerpack to $125,000:

It brings the cost of the system down to $539 per kWh, but that’s including the expensive commercial inverter.

The price per kWh goes down significantly when adding more Powerpacks to the same inverter system.

That’s also without incentives.

Tesla’s price guide for commercial solar is only available in California, where they have strong incentives for energy storage for self-generation.

According to Tesla’s configurator, a Powerpack can be added to a 40 kW solar system for just $26,000 after incentives.

The price change happens as Tesla is about to announce new batteries at its Battery Day event later today.

Electrek’s Take

While the timing is interesting, it could be completely coincidental, but I guess we will know in just a few hours.

It is a significant price drop before incentives, but the system was already expensive to start with.

The price difference might also be on the inverter side and not the battery side.

Either way, it is worth noting, especially considering the crazy incentives in California. If I was a business owner in California, I would certainly consider this solution.

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Canada signs deal with VBI Vaccines to develop coronavirus candidate by 2022 – Global News

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VBI Vaccines Inc said on Monday it had entered into an agreement with Canada to develop a potential vaccine for COVID-19 by 2022 through mid-stage trials conducted exclusively in the country.

Canada will contribute around 75% of the U.S.-based company’s development costs and C$55.9 million ($42.2 million) for the project.

VBI Vaccines said last month that together with the National Research Council Canada it was investigating the vaccine candidate, VBI-2900, in preclinical trials.

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As per the agreement, signed last week, the company’s Ottawa-based unit is obligated to complete the vaccine development in or before the first quarter of 2022.






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Ottawa signs 2 new COVID-19 vaccine deals for Canada


Ottawa signs 2 new COVID-19 vaccine deals for Canada

There are currently no approved vaccines for COVID-19, but around 38 vaccines are being tested in humans around the world.

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© 2020 Reuters

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