July 9, 2018 11:11 pm
Updated: July 10, 2018 3:55 pm

What are the alternatives to Greyhound in Western Canada?

WATCH: Dwindling ridership has forced transport giant Greyhound to end most of its operations in western Canada. One bus route will remain between Vancouver and Seattle. As Paul Johnson reports, the company says it's been losing money for years.

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The news that Greyhound Canada buses won’t be travelling to cities and communities west of Sudbury, Ont. as of Oct. 31 has left many travellers in a bind.

“I take the bus every weekend ‘cause I’m from Fort Mac and I just come [to Edmonton] every weekend and hang out with my friends,” Seth Grandjambe told Global News. “(The lack of Greyhound service will leave) me being stuck up there every weekend.”

READ MORE: Greyhound Canada to end routes in Prairies, B.C.

Indigenous people from northern Manitoba rely on the bus service for travel to medical appointments.

“It is already well documented that our citizens have to ride the bus for hours, some longer than 14 hours, in order to see a doctor. How will they get access to adequate health care now?” Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said.

Greyhound officials blamed the change on declining ridership.

WATCH: Greyhound to cease operations across Western Canada


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“This decision is regretful and we sympathize with the fact that many small towns are going to lose service,” said Greyhound Canada senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick.

“But simply put, the issue that we have seen is the routes in rural parts of Canada, specifically Western Canada, are just not sustainable anymore.”

So what are the available options to those without a car in these communities after Oct. 31? 

While there are limited other busing options, there are train and plane options to many of the routes, albeit at a higher price, sometimes double or triple the cost of a Greyhound trip.

British Columbia:

When this happened to the northern British Columbia routes earlier this year, the Province of B.C. stepped in to help connect communities like Fort Nelson, Prince Rupert and Dawson Creek with its BC Bus North service.

READ MORE: Okanagan mayors lamenting loss of Greyhound

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena called Greyhound’s move hugely problematic for people who depend on the service in the province’s Interior and to go to and from Alberta.

“In the weeks and months ahead, I will be sitting down with other service providers, the private sector and local government to discuss how we can ensure people have access to safe, reliable and affordable transportation to get from one community to the next,” she said.

WATCH: What do Greyhound cancellations mean for British Columbians?

In Kelowna, Mayor Colin Basran said it may be time to look at a homegrown bus service.

“Perhaps we need to have discussions with the provincial government and BC Transit about at least a regional service so that people throughout the Okanagan Valley can still connect to the destinations they need to,” Basran said.

Here are some alternatives that B.C. travellers can consider to Greyhound services:

  • Route cancelled: Calgary – Kelowna – Kamloops – Vancouver

The Kamloops –Vancouver option is available from Via Rail, but Kelowna and Calgary aren’t. They are available by flight.

  • Route cancelled: Vancouver – Whistler – Pemberton

You can travel to Whistler on Pacific Coach Lines from Vancouver for as little as $20, but you can’t go all the way to Pemberton.

  • Route cancelled: Prince George – Kamloops

This route is available by train or by airplane.

  • Route cancelled: Osoyoos – Penticton – Kelowna – Kamloops

The nearest airport for Osoyoos is Penticton. Airplanes service the route from Penticton, Kelowna and Kamloops. No train that services this route.

Alberta:

Alberta’s transportation minister called on Ottawa to come up with a way to fill the bus service gap that Greyhound’s departure will leave.

“Given the developments today, we need the federal government to step up and come up with a national solution that keeps Canadians connected across the country,” Brian Mason said in an emailed statement.

“Greyhound’s decision to discontinue service in the Prairies is an issue of national importance.”

WATCH: How will Alberta be impacted by Greyhound bring its bus service to an end in the province?

Late Monday afternoon, Transport Canada issued a statement in which it said “there are no federal government funding programs that would provide an operational subsidy for private intercity bus carriers,” and suggested a response was perhaps more incumbent on the provinces as opposed to Ottawa.

According to Transport Canada, individual jurisdictions are free to subsidize particular routes or carriers if they so wish, adding that since Greyhound began cutting services to various markets in 2009, many service gaps have been “filled by other bus companies, and by other modes.”

READ MORE: Western Canada Greyhound withdrawal ‘to have implications for labour mobility’: Edmonton mayor

Other than the regular train and airplane service, Alberta also has Red Arrow transportation, which is an intercity bus service that only operates in that province.

  • Route cancelled: Dawson Creek – Edmonton

This route is serviced by plane, but not by train.

  • Route cancelled: Calgary – Edmonton

This route is serviced by Red Arrow buses and by plane; it is not serviced by train.

  • Route cancelled: Calgary – Lethbridge

This route is serviced by Red Arrow buses and by plane; it is not serviced by train.

  • Route cancelled: Edmonton – Fort McMurray

This route is serviced by Red Arrow buses and by plane; it is not serviced by train.

  • Route cancelled: Calgary – Kelowna

This route is serviced by Red Arrow buses and by plane; it is not serviced by train.

  • Route cancelled: Saskatoon – Edmonton

This route is available on Via Rail, and by plane.

  • Route cancelled: Edmonton – Vancouver

This route is available on Via Rail, and by plane.

LISTEN: John Stepovy of Red Arrow Motorcoach joins Danielle Smith to discuss the challenges of running a bus service across Alberta

View link »

Saskatchewan

The provincial government shut down the provincially-run Saskatchewan Transportation Company in a bid to cut the deficit.

WATCH: Greyhound Canada second bus service to cancel Saskatchewan routes

Premier Scott Moe’s spokesman Jim Billington said bringing it back doesn’t make sense and would require over $80 million in subsidies over the next five years.

  • Route cancelled: Winnipeg – Saskatoon

This route is available on Via Rail, and by plane.

  • Route cancelled: Saskatoon – Edmonton

This route is available on Via Rail, and by plane.

Manitoba

Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said the announcement caught him by surprise, but he is hoping other companies can come forward with business plans.

While there are certain northern routes that aren’t serviced by major airlines like Air Canada or WestJet, smaller airlines like Calm Air and Perimeter Aviation will service the less-travelled routes.

READ MORE: ‘Shock but not surprised’: Manitobans react to Greyhound Bus shutdown

  • Route cancelled: Sault Ste Marie – Thunder Bay – Winnipeg – Manitoba

This route is serviced by airplane.

  • Route cancelled: Calgary – Winnipeg

This route is serviced by airplane.

  • Route cancelled: Winnipeg – Thunder Bay

This route is serviced by airplane.

  • Route cancelled: Winnipeg – Saskatoon

This route is serviced by train and by airplane.

  • Route cancelled: Winnipeg – Thompson

This route is serviced by train and by airplane (Calm Air).

  • Route cancelled: Winnipeg – Flin Flon

This route is available by airplane (Calm Air).

  • Route cancelled: Thompson – Gillam

This route is available by train.

  • Route cancelled: Thompson – Cross Lake

This route is available by airplane (Perimeter Aviation).

Northern Ontario:

All Greyhound routes in Ontario and Quebec will continue to operate except for one: the Trans-Canada, which links a number of smaller communities between Winnipeg and Sudbury, Ont.

The full list of communities affected can be found on the Greyhound website.

There are 19 communities serviced by Ontario Northland transit (either bus or train).

They are:

  1. Bruce Mines
  2. Espanola
  3. Spanish
  4. Batchawana Bay
  5. Blind River
  6. Copper Cliff
  7. Desbarats
  8. Echo Bay
  9. Garden River
  10. Goulais River
  11. Heyden
  12. Iron Bridge
  13. Massey
  14. Nairn Centre
  15. Sault Ste. Marie
  16. Spragge
  17. Wawa
  18. Webbwood
  19. White River

There are also smaller private companies that offer intercity transport, such as Kasper Transportation, which services another seven of the affected communities.

Listen below: Greyhound Canada’s announcement that it will cease almost all of its Canadian bus service west of Sudbury is discussed on Charles Adler Tonight.

View link »

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