Central Albertans ‘disappointed’ by service shutdown
Rosa Laporta is a Red Deer senior who hops on a Greyhound about once a month to visit her family in Calgary.
But come October, she would no longer be able to do that.
Greyhound Canada is ending its passenger bus and freight services in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and cancelling all but one route in B.C, the company announced Monday.
The company is blaming a 41 per cent decline in ridership since 2010, persistent competition from subsidized national and inter-regional passenger transportation services, the growth of new low-cost airlines, regulatory constraints and the continued growth of car ownership.
The shutdown is “disappointing” for Laporta. It’s going to make it hard,” she said Monday.
“I’m so used to getting in a Greyhound and getting there – it’s a reliable service – but now I don’t know what we’re going to do – us Greyhound users.”
The Red Deer senior drives around the city in her car but is not comfortable to drive on the highways. She said it’s scary to drive in the summers with all the construction and detours, and is equally nervous when it comes to winter driving.
Red Deer city Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said it’s a sad day and is indicative of the times we live in. She noted the company has made changes to its routes in the past few years to keep itself afloat.
She said Red Deerians who can’t drive, or have mobility challenges rely on bus services such as Greyhound to get to places.
“We do have Red Arrow that runs in some of our communities who may pick up some of the slack and perhaps another provider will come in to fill that niche,” Wyntjes said.
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce CEO Robin Bobocel said the shutdown is unfortunate especially for smaller communities that may rely on the service.
“I know these companies don’t take these decisions lightly and I trust that they tried everything and it’s just unfortunate consequence of the economy and probably technology as well,” he said.
Red Deer is in need of “good news” and this is not going to help, said the chamber CEO.
“This is just going to be another piece of bad news on the pile.”
When the changes take effect the end of October, Ontario and Quebec will be the only regions where the familiar running-dog logo continues to grace Canadian highways.
“This decision is regretful and we sympathize with the fact that many small towns are going to lose service,” Greyhound Canada senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“But simply put, the issue that we have seen is the routes in rural parts of Canada — specifically Western Canada — are just not sustainable anymore.”
Kendrick said 415 people will be out of work as a result of the decision, which he estimates will impact roughly two million consumers.
Red Deer’s Chris Zuberbier uses the service in times of emergency like when his car breaks down. That’s what happened this past winter when the 38-year-old was in Grande Prairie. He used the bus service to come back to his home city.
“If I’m stuck now and I need to use the Greyhound I would have to get someone to drive me across the country,” he said.
He hopes the service will be filled by either private buses or van services.
“It’s a shame because it’s a staple of Canada,” he said referring to how old the service is.
With files from The Canadian Press