Monday, July 9, 2018

Greyhound shuts down Western Canadian bus service

Along with politics, one of my keen interests is Transportation. I wanted to thus do a quick post about this.

For those who don't know already, Greyhound is shutting down bus services in Western Canada.

There are a few ways this will play out based on how this has played out in the past. To help set the stage I present this map as a google map: Click Here

The map is a bit of a mess so let me explain.

The black line is the existing VIA Rail line from Sudbury to Vancouver. It runs, if I recall correctly, runs two times a week.

Red lines show existing bus services provided by companies other than Greyhound. This is Ontario Northland in Ontario, Rider Express in Saskatchewan, and Red Arrow in Alberta.

The Yellow line, which might be a bit hard to see (by design) is the existing track where a new rail line could be run; it was one of the original VIA rail routes that went through Calgary and Regina. It would be fairly easy to again run a train on this route, but, I see it as very unlikely given the current situation politically.

More important is the Green lines. These are places where I fully expect some private companies to pick up the slack. In Ontario for example, the new Ford government has an MPP whose riding is losing its bus service. The MPP, who is also the minister for Northern Development, is almost certain to get a bus service to make up for this lack of Greyhound buses. Ontario Northland is already a private company that operates in Northern Ontario and it is thus extremely likely that Ontario Northland will simply be extended to Thunder Bay, if not Winnipeg.

Rider Express would likely opt to restart services to Estevan and Yorkton, both of which appear to have been stopped due to lack of demand. Without competition, it is likely these routes could see a re-introduction. Also possible is a line to Winnipeg. Should Winnipeg not be connected though both Ontario Northland and Rider Express, then we would most likely see a new bus company developing in the area to connect Winnipeg to both Regina and Thunder Bay.

Red Arrow, which seems to be the largest and strongest of the private companies we are speaking about, is likely to be the ones who would run any Edmonton to Saskatoon route, and, any route connecting Calgary either to Swift Current, or, more likely, Regina itself. I could also see Red Arrow running buses from Calgary to Kamloops.

BC would likely either see a new private company popping up, or, interestingly, the government step in. BC has a province-wide publicly owned bus company called BC Transit. While Vancouver has its own system, the bus in Victoria is simply known as "BC Transit" as is the bus in Kamloops, and Kelowna, and so forth. Given the current government in BC (NDP) my feeling is that BC Transit will simply start more intercity services, and that's why I have both Prince George and Kelowna in Green, even though both are more iffy in terms of profitability.

So what about beyond this?

Frankly, if your town does not have a green line on the map, you are probably out of luck.

I could see a Saskatoon-Winnipeg route though Yorkton, a Medicine Hat to Lethbridge route, a route from Edmonton to Grand Prairie, and a route through southern BC connecting Kelowna to Penticton to Nelson to Cranbrook and on to Lethbridge.

Each of these would have much more limited profitability than the other routes listed.

Other places, like Thompson, are simply too far "off the grid" to service via bus, and it is likely the only connections from these places to the rest of Canada for those without cars will be though the skies.

edited to clarify:

many of these routes are run with government subsidies, thats why politics count!

1 comment:

  1. I lived in Atlantic Canada when greyhound shut down service there, so I saw some of how these decisions are made.