Bus partnership offers routes, one-stop booking

A new partnership officially announced on Thursday between six bus service providers is now filling the void left when the bus market was deregulated last October.

A new partnership officially announced on Thursday between six bus service providers is now filling the void left when the bus market was deregulated last October.

Albertabus.com — a partnership between Red Arrow Motorcoach, discount line ebus, Brewster Transportation, Onkod Transportation, Sundog Tours and Traxx Coachlines — is offering a network of routes and a one-stop booking source, making it easier for bus travellers in Red Deer and area to travel and reserve their trips.

“So far it has been working well, all the partners are up on the website,” said John Stepovy, general manager of Red Arrow Motorcoach, on Friday.

All the bus connections are “point-to-point” so passengers do not have to travel from one bus to another, Stepovy said.

After Alberta Transportation deregulated the market, it removed a requirement on Greyhound to provide service to rural communities. The bus line discontinued 12 “unprofitable” routes — the Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House route, to name one.

Paul Hermary, 75, of Clive says he is “appalled” at the lack of bus services in Alberta. His son is no longer able to access transportation to Rocky in order to get to his work site in Caroline.

“The problem with public transportation goes much further than the Calgary to Edmonton corridor,” Hermary said.

“The problem is throughout Alberta. Cancellation of a bus services by major carriers left citizens who are unable to drive, including seniors, young people, workers or people travelling to airports without any transportation,” he said, adding that municipalities and government should have stepped in to protect the travelling public.

“The gravy line is gone,” he said.

Stepovy said that service providers under Albertabus.com are looking at the rural communities and plan on expanding services.

“We are looking at running a service between Rocky Mountain House, Sylvan and Red Deer and that should be rolled out in the upcoming months. We are working with various partners and various communities throughout the province to get more services in place,” he said.

Red Arrow Motorcoach initiated Albertabus.com by contacting the five other bus lines. Stepovy says it makes sense that they co-operate. The bus line did not extend the partnership to Greyhound.

Red Arrow has daily departures from its Red Deer ticket office at the Red Deer Holiday Inn at 6500 67th St. to Calgary and Edmonton.

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com