Ebus eyes thrifty motorists

Red Deer residents will soon have a $29 option when travelling to Edmonton or Calgary. A new Calgary-Red Deer-Edmonton bus service is being launched on Oct. 20 by Red Arrow Motorcoach. Operating as ebus, it will offer scheduled service between Calgary and Edmonton, with stops in Red Deer.

Red Deer residents will soon have a $29 option when travelling to Edmonton or Calgary.

A new Calgary-Red Deer-Edmonton bus service is being launched on Oct. 20 by Red Arrow Motorcoach. Operating as ebus, it will offer scheduled service between Calgary and Edmonton, with stops in Red Deer.

The full-route fare will be $49 — or $34 for the Red Deer leg only — with a $5 discount for online bookings, said ebus and Red Arrow general manager John Stepovy.

“It’s basically a value line that we’re introducing between Edmonton and Calgary.”

Stepovy explained that many travellers drive their own vehicles because it’s cost-effective to do so. That advantage will diminish with ebus.

“A tank of gas between Edmonton and Calgary is probably about $40, so we’ll be right in that price range.”

Ebus won’t offer the amenities that Red Arrow does — like single seating, onboard movies and satellite radio — but riders will still have access to wireless Internet and 110-volt power.

“You’re basically in a comfortable coach that’s less than five years old and that’s operated by Red Arrow-trained drivers and has the basics,” said Stepovy.

The new bus line will use Red Arrow’s offices and depots, including its local stop at Holiday Inn 67th Street.

Its initial schedule will include up to four departures daily from Edmonton and Calgary, with all stopping in Red Deer.

Expansion is a strong possibility, said Stepovy.

“We’re going to monitor and see how things go, and hopefully we can get into other locations as well.”

The Alberta government deregulated long-haul bus service, effective Oct. 1.

Previously, it restricted competition on some routes in exchange for service on less-profitable runs.

“The province has taken the barriers down, and we’re running with it,” said Stepovy.

He not worried about Red Arrow losing customers to its sister line.

“We think it’s distinct enough,” he said, adding that the demographic ebus should attract is more likely that currently served by Greyhound.

To sweeten its appeal, ebus is selling the first three seats booked for each departure at $1. This promotion will continue until Nov. 30.

Stepovy said the ebus name was derived from the words economical, efficient and everyone. It also reflects the bus line’s technological offerings, like online booking and wireless Internet.

“We’re trying to appeal to the next generation of traveller.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com