Greyhound Canada will discontinue service in Ontario west of Sudbury, alongside pulling out of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and much of British Columbia, the company has announced.
The cuts come into effect October 31. “We understand that these route changes are difficult for our customers,” said Stuart Kendrick, senior vice president, adding ridership has dropped nearly 41 per cent since 2010. “Simply put, we can no longer operate unsustainable routes.”
Wendy Landry, president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) weighed in on the cuts, saying NOMA is extremely concerned with the announcement. “While we understand that ridership has decreased over the past number of years, at the end of the day, it is a major hit to the people in the northwest,” she said.
“There are many factors that contribute to a decrease in rider ship especially in this region; costs and scheduling being two import ant issues that likely caused a reduction in passengers. While we do have a private carrier that can pick up delivering services to some of these routes, NOMA has long advocated for the province to provide subsidies to this region to ensure that transportation opportunities are available to those who need it especially those seeking a reliable source to move between com munities.
“Many parts of this province have subsidized travel whether it’s through Metrolinx or the ONTC. It’s time to extend that same practice to the northwest in an effort to provide cost efficient travel that is accessible.”
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum said people have long depended on the Greyhound bus system, whether for personal or health transportation.
“Certainly I would say that the other small bus services that are available will now have to maybe increase their services,” she said. “This probably means that airfare is going to increase a bit now because that demand will increase, as always hap pens in economics,” she added.
“That’s what I’m concerned about, that it will affect travel options for students, our people that utilize the bus for employment, or health.”
The cuts would also impact safety, and isolation, she said. “Any time someone needs to relocate or leave for their own survival or safety issues, as we know the bus has always been a cheaper way of transportation,” she said. “There were a lot of people that utilized that particular service so now that will be limited as well. Of course that’s going to have an impact on safe ty because their options of leaving, for example, Dryden wanting to get to Winnipeg, the options will be less. That always creates hardship.”
NAN already has a high rate of people who are displaced for various reasons, she added. “If the means of transportation is going to lessen, of course we’re going to have some people that will be isolated to certain places.”
Kasper Transportation Service announced it will provide a direct route from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay, Winnipeg-Regina-Saskatoon-Prince Albert, and Winnipeg to Thompson, MB, starting October 31. A Thunder Bay to White River route will commence service September 1.