End of the line: Options for Manitoba passengers once Greyhound is gone
When the Greyhound buses arrive in Winnipeg from northern Manitoba Wednesday morning, it will be the end of the line for riders as well as the bus company.
This past July, Greyhound announced it would be discontinuing passenger and freight services in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and cancelling all but one route in B.C.
Greyhound offered routes like Winnipeg to Calgary with stops in Brandon and Portage la Prairie. They were a primary source for bus riders and parcel service to rural Manitoba communities like Thompson, Flin Flon, Gillam and Cross Lake, and beyond to Saskatoon, Kenora, and Thunder Bay.
The bus service was a life-line for residents in remote communities needing to come to Winnipeg for medical treatment, appointments or shopping.
Advocates were concerned many would be largely left hanging when Greyhound service came to an end. Small businesses who relied on the transport company for shipments and business also worried about their future.
Service on all Greyhound routes in Manitoba end Oct. 31.
Immediately after the company said they were pulling out of the province, a number of businesses set the wheels in motion to fill the void left behind.
Transportation Economist Barry Prentice said Greyhound leaving opens the road for other companies.
“If you look at the north as a good example, the alternative is a very expensive plane ride. There they have a competitive opportunity. If you’re looking at cross country services… that’s a tougher market to break into,” he said.
Alternative service providers
Kelsey Bus Lines was operating as only a charter bus company but they purchased two additional buses to start offering routes between Flin Flon and Winnipeg. The company said they are evaluating adding a route between Thompson and Winnipeg as well. They’re starting their rides on Nov. 1.
Maple Bus Lines already has service direct between Winnipeg and Thompson. Starting Nov. 1, the company will offer service from Winnipeg to Thompson via Dauphin, Swan River and The Pas. They’re also planning a cargo service from Winnipeg to Thompson, Dauphin, Swan River and The Pas.
Kasper Transportation announced they would be coming to Manitoba as well, with routes from Winnipeg to Sioux Lookout with stops including Kenora.
Saskatchewan-based Rider Express was planning on expanding their service, but said they will be delayed due to technical issues. The company’s website says it plans on offering rides between Winnipeg and Calgary with stops in places like Brandon and Regina. There’s no date yet when the Manitoba rides will begin.
Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler was pushing for Greyhound to extend their stay in Manitoba. He’s blaming the federal government.
“Our government has worked to ensure that an extension of service would be negotiated between the federal government and Greyhound. However, the federal government refused to act on this proposal, and as such Greyhound is shuttering service,” he said.
“Our understanding is that most Greyhound routes in Manitoba will continue to have scheduled bus services after Greyhound ceases operations. Additionally, we have seen companies step up to test the viability of offering freight services that Greyhound had previously offered.”
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