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Province expands rural Alberta bus service pilot project

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks at the legislature Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks at the legislature Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Global News

Alberta is expanding a pilot project to ensure bus service to residents in rural areas.

Premier Rachel Notley says new routes will be set up between Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, as well as in Red Deer County.

That’s on top of existing pilot projects in and around Camrose, Grande Prairie and Spirit River.

READ MORE: Provincial government announces rural bus plan for north and central Alberta

Notley says it’s critical that citizens in more rural or remote areas are able to get around, especially given Greyhound’s recent announcement.

The bus company, citing declining ridership, says it is shutting down passenger and delivery services on the Prairies, northwestern Ontario and all but one cross-border route in British Columbia.

The government says the pilot project routes will assist about 40,000 people.

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READ MORE: Premiers agree Greyhound western pullout needs national response: Notley

“Since Greyhound made their announcement we simply can’t leave people stranded by the road,” Notley said in Medicine Hat on Wednesday.

“Rural Albertans, and rural Alberta communities, make an enormous contribution to our province and we owe it to them to protect the transportation options that they have.”

READ MORE: What are the alternatives to Greyhound in Western Canada?

The government said it will invest $700,000 in the route in the Medicine Hat and Lethbridge area and another $700,000 for the Red Deer County route.

– With files from Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED