The View From Here – Replacing Greyhound Bus service is a matter of great urgency for those affected

Tom Henihan

It is now official, an irreversible reality that Greyhound has ceased service to 360 locations in Western Canada, 300 of those were relying solely on Greyhound for service.

It is easy to say that the demise of Greyhound service, which stopped at midnight on Wednesday October 31, is just the end of an era and an inevitable development that was a long time coming.

Passenger numbers had declined by 41 percent across Canada over the past eight years.

Nobody could find fault with Greyhound deciding to withdraw from those routes that were clearly under utilized and unprofitable. Greyhound even deserves some credit for hanging in there for so long.

So the world moves on and those of us who do not rely on the bus can blithely say ‘that’s the end of an era.’

Of course, it is not the end of an era for those who still rely on bus service; it is a situation that has a great deal of urgency for those who need to take bus for any variety of reasons, especially matters related to healthcare.

Of course, it is not the responsibility of private enterprises to guarantee services to people in rural area and small towns.

That is primarily the responsibility of provincial and local governments to ensure that people affected by Greyhound’s withdrawal are provided with some alternative.

And as this is an essential service for the people affected, some provisional solution should be offered quickly, until a permanent alternative is found.

The best way to address people’s needs is to discover who these people are, what is the predominant demographic and the frequency of demand.

It is incumbent on local municipalities to identify who is affected by the cancelled bus service, then find out the reality for the rest of the region and maybe provide a collective, regional solution.

The cancellation of Greyhound bus service has an immediate effect on the people who use the service. It is no consolation or is it of any practical use to arrogantly pronounce that rural bus service is passé and the world has moved on.

For those left without service, statistics and financial rationalizations mean nothing.

The dilemma of being unable to attend a doctor’s appointment, simply go shopping or fulfil any plan that requires transportation is an extremely frustrating and serious dilemma.

This situation is similar to the time when pay phones were being quickly decommissioned because cell phones were the way of the future.

That period of transition left many on the periphery with no access a telephone, which also left people isolated and inconvenienced.

Some provision should have been made to address this inevitability and certainly governments should have had more foresight. The people affected don’t have the means of providing a reliable alternative other than to occasionally ask a neighbour or a family member for a ride. Such favours cannot be relied on and people would prefer to have the autonomy to simply getting the bus.

For those with no alternative to riding the bus, the inevitable comes as a shock when the reality of having no means of transportation finally hits home.


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