Megabus expands service to Ottawa from Toronto, Kingston after Greyhound Canada cuts

Click to play video: 'Greyhound leaves Canadian market after almost a century'
Greyhound leaves Canadian market after almost a century
WATCH ABOVE: Students went home from university on their buses. Seniors travelled to visit friends in other communities aboard them. But now after 92 years, Greyhound has decided it will no longer serve Canadian cities and towns. As Sean O’Shea reports, it follows a COVID-19 pandemic suspension and years of financial losses. – May 13, 2021

A day after Greyhound Canada announced it is cutting its routes in Ontario, the parent company of Megabus has announced the carrier will be expanding to Ottawa from the Toronto-Kingston corridor.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, company staff said double-decker Megabus vehicles will be servicing OC Transpo’s St.-Laurent station, just east of Ottawa’s downtown core and off of Highway 417, between Thursdays and Sundays starting on May 20.

The update said a new route to and from Ottawa will service downtown Toronto, Scarborough Town Centre and Kingston.

“There are many reasons for essential travel throughout Canada right now, and to support the community,” the statement said, noting tickets for the first week of service will be fare-free.

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Colin Emberson, the vice president of retail for Megabus, told Global News in a statement the company is “exploring options” for potential additional service east of Ottawa, but information was limited as of Friday.

He also said the carrier’s Toronto-Kingston-Montreal and Toronto-Niagara Falls routes continued to operate throughout the pandemic and the company is “fully committed” to continuing those routes.

On Thursday, the Canadian branch of Greyhound announced the permanent end of its remaining routes in the province that were suspended in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, around 260 employees were laid off when the suspension was announced. Now those employees along with 45 others will be let go.

The decades-old bus carrier struggled for years, citing a decline in ridership, an increase in competition, and deregulation. In 2018, it suspended all operations in western Canada, citing similar reasons.

The following routes were discontinued as of Thursday: Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal, Toronto-London-Windsor, Sudbury-Ottawa/Toronto, Toronto-Kitchener/Guelph/Cambridge, Toronto-Niagara Falls and Ottawa-Kingston.

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However, some stations were shuttered months after the suspension began. In October, the company announced it was leaving the Catherine Street terminal in Ottawa and at the time promised to operate at a new location.

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Meanwhile, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson called Friday’s news “welcome … for the thousands of residents who depend on this essential travel service.”

“City staff are already working with their team to facilitate the use of our transit stations and make it easy for customers to begin using their services very soon,” he said in a post on Twitter.

Megabus to leave Toronto Coach Terminal in ‘coming months’

The change announced by Megabus on Friday won’t be the only one for travellers coming to, or going from, Toronto.

Emberson said the carrier is going to be leaving the Toronto Coach Terminal, located near the corner of Bay Street and Dundas Street West, “in the coming months” and will be relocating to the Union Station Bus Terminal. He said a formal announcement will be made in the near future.

Anne Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for Metrolinx — the government agency that oversees the new Union Station terminal at Bay Street and Lake Shore Boulevard West, confirmed Megabus will be moving into the terminal. She said riders can expect to see Megabus vehicles testing at Union Station as well as signage going up.

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“It’s always been a part of the vision of it because it’s so big and it’s so centrally located. You’ll be able to take a bus from anywhere to the Union Station Bus Terminal and be able to connect with a GO train, a subway train, a VIA train all right there,” Aikins said.

With Greyhound Canada ending its Ontario routes (although some trips from the United States will still be coming to Toronto) and with Megabus moving to the Union Station Bus Terminal, it has raised questions about the future of the Toronto Coach Terminal with a major reduction in trips. Ontario Northland is still scheduled to operate trips out of the downtown terminal though.

Global News contacted the TTC, the organization that oversees the terminal, as well as the City of Toronto to ask about how the recent moves will impact the operations of the Toronto Coach Terminal. TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the agency is still in the process of assessing the impacts.

“We are aware of the public comments of these companies and are determining next steps,” he told Global News.

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