Sunday, June 20

Greyhound Canada to End Interurban Routes in a Blow to Rural Communities | Canada


Greyhound Canada will permanently cease its intercity bus operations, the company announced, as losses mounted and passenger numbers plunged from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The news of the company’s exit is a severe blow to rural communities across the country, who have relied on the company’s services for nearly a century.

“It has been a very difficult decision and we have made it with great regret,” Stuart Kendrick, senior vice president of Greyhound Canada, told the Canadian Press on Thursday. “It has been a lifesaver for many Canadians for more than 90 years. This will have a huge impact. “

Without a nationalized bus network, Canadians in rural parts of the country have used Greyhound, owned by UK-based FirstGroup, as a critical intercity transit service.

But the bus line has struggled with declining revenue in recent years, as more people switch to personal cars. It has also increasingly found itself in competition with VIA Rail, the country’s national rail service, as well as subsidized transit systems and new entrants.

Greyhound foreshadowed its demise in 2018, announcing that it would be operating in western Canada amid mounting losses and declining passenger numbers.

Greyhound’s permanent departure from Canada will hit indigenous communities hard, many of whom have long relied on the intercity bus network as a necessary link to neighboring cities and towns and as a safe way to travel. Canada’s National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls called for greater access to safe intercity transit as one of its recommendations.

Bus service has also been critical for women fleeing domestic abuse.

“[Women at risk] maybe they could be pushed into more vulnerable situations where they could hitchhike, and I’ve seen that happen, therefore putting them at greater risk, not only of violence, but also of potential homicide, ”said Josie Nepinak of Awo Taan Healing Lodge. The Canadian Press in 2018, following news that the company was ending its Western operations.

Last May, when the coronavirus pandemic halted travel across the country, Greyhound Canada announced it was suspending operations and laid off 260 employees.

“Our service is dependent on the fare box; we cannot sustain operations with a significant reduction in passenger numbers and a corresponding loss of revenue,” the company said in a statement Thursday, adding that it had approached multiple levels of government for help. – but called the offers “insignificant”.

The company’s US subsidiary, Greyhound Lines Inc, will continue to operate cross-border routes once the US-Canada border is reopened.

Another 45 employees will also lose their jobs after Thursday’s announcement.

“The collapse of Greyhound was not a foregone conclusion; this could have been avoided if our federal and provincial governments really cared about those in remote communities who depended on intercity bus service, “said John Di Nino, president of the Canadian branch of the Amalgamated Transit Union. “The closure of interurban traffic today has opened a hole in the fabric of our country, which will take decades to repair.”


www.theguardian.com

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