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Edmonton bus company launching northern Alberta routes

Cold shot is launching new bus services in northern Alberta, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. .
Cold shot is launching new bus services in northern Alberta, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. . Dean Twardzik, Global News

An Edmonton-based company is launching a new bus service in the northern part of the province.

With Greyhound Canada ending operations in Western Canada at midnight on Halloween, Cold Shot is starting new services in mid-November in central and northern Alberta.

The routes will run from Edmonton to Jasper, Grande Prairie, Peace River, Fort McMurray, Cold Lake and Lloydminster. The stops in Jasper and Lloydminster will serve as interline connections to bus services into British Columbia and Saskatchewan with Sundog Tours and KCTI Travel.

In addition, the company’s buses will travel from Edmonton to Red Deer and Calgary.

“With the amount of ridership we have, this should be a successful project moving ahead,” Cold Shots Director Sunny Balwaria said.

READ MORE: Fragmented bus service market emerges as Greyhound exits Western Canada this week

The company says its new facility in Edmonton will handle passenger and freight traffic and service its new fleet of 18 buses.

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Cold Shot says the combination of providing both passenger and freight services and its buses being smaller and less expensive to operate allow the company to offer lower rates for passenger and freight customers.

“We’re providing a cheaper rate than the competition and the key is the freight [service], which provides a cheaper cost of price per ticket for every individual customer,” Balwaria said.

“The business community of Alberta has supported us big time, and that’s the key for us to provide cheaper rates for bus passengers.”

Balwaria said a one-way ticket from Edmonton to Calgary will cost about $39.

The company plans to increase its bus fleet to 35 by April 2019.

Cold Shot is an Alberta-owned company that’s been in operation since 2005.

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

This summer, and citing financial difficulties, Greyhound announced that it would be abandoning all but one of its routes in Western Canada, effective Oct. 31.

The venerable national motor coach operator is being replaced by a mix of provincial government-subsidized services, Indigenous-owned bus lines, locally owned startups, flexible fleets of shuttle buses and a scattering of formal and informal ride-sharing services.

READ MORE: Other bus companies step in as Greyhound ends western Canada service

In Alberta, the provincial government has launched pilot programs at a cost of $2.8 million to help five rural municipalities start inter-city bus services. One, centred on Camrose, about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, has already started and the others are expected to begin over the next three months.

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Regina-based Rider Express has acquired five full-sized 50-seat buses and plans to begin passenger service on a Vancouver-Calgary-Winnipeg route on the Trans-Canada Highway this week, followed in November by a Highway 16 route linking Edmonton and Saskatoon, said manager Shauna Hardy. Both routes will directly replace Greyhound routes.

Late last May, Calgary-based Pacific Western Transportation was hired by the province of British Columbia to operate its BC Bus North service after Greyhound cancelled service to communities including Prince Rupert and Dawson Creek.

Cold Shot will be providing more details about its new services on Wednesday morning.

— With files from The Canadian Press