Alternative bus companies are stepping to the fill the void left by Greyhound as it prepares to exit Western Canada next week.
On Wednesday, Greyhound Canada is set to follow through with its plans — announced in July — to end all routes in the western part of the country. The service between Vancouver and Seattle, which is run by Greyhound’s U.S. division, will continue.
For customers like George Hutsulak, 84, the change will mean finding a new way to get around.
“I’ve travelled Greyhound since I joined the military in 1955. I used to go to visit my grandmother in Lethbridge. At that time, it used to be five dollars return,” Hutsulak said with a laugh.
Hutsulak travelled with Greyhound from Calgary to Edmonton this week. He prefers the bus to flying, regardless of the price.
“I enjoy going by bus because I go through all the little villages and towns which, when I’m flying, I fly over,” Hutsulak said. “I say, ‘I wish I was down there to see all this.'”
Companies like Red Arrow and Rider Express are jumping in to pick up some of what Greyhound is leaving behind. Red Arrow started service between Edmonton and Grand Prairie this week and has added more trips to and from Calgary. Rider Express plans to launch a route between Edmonton and Winnipeg next month.
Operating differently from Greyhound is a key consideration for bus companies stepping in to ensure their viability. Part of that includes reducing costs, such as by avoiding expensive bus depots, and by focusing on customer service.
“For us, we focus on people. We’re a people transportation and a mobility company,” said John Stepovy, the director or sales and business development at Pacific Western Transportation, which owns Red Arrow. “We don’t do freight. Everything we do — our schedules, our services, our location — everything we build around people.”
WATCH: Impact of Greyhound ceasing Western Canada services
Ahead of what is likely his last trip on Greyhound, George Hutsulak says he’ll miss it.
“It’s just going to make me feel sad that I’m not going to be travelling Greyhound anymore. I don’t know what’s in store for my next travel.”