Two local bus services are filling the gap left behind by Greyhound

Susan Thompson
Express Staff

When Greyhound announced in the summer of 2018 that the bus company was ending passenger bus and freight services in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, rural residents who relied on the company for travel and parcel service were rightly concerned.

“This decision is regretful and we sympathize with the fact that many small towns are going to lose service,” Greyhound Canada senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick said in an interview with The Canadian Press at the time.

However, in Greyhound’s absence, other companies have been working hard to fill the need for bus service in the Peace region. In fact, Cold Shot bus service started up as soon as Greyhound shut down their services.

“We were the contractors with Greyhound,” explains Sateesh Kadiyala, Cold Shot supervisor. “We were the ones running the Greyhound Edmonton to Peace River run, Edmonton to Camrose, Edmonton to Cold Lake. We added more routes. We know what we did before and we are doing the same thing again.”

Cold Shot offers a variety of passenger routes going as far as Calgary, Fort McMurray, Jasper, and Lloydminster. Their most popular local routes according to their website are Peace River to Edmonton and Peace River to Grande Prairie, both of which run Monday to Friday. The Peace River to Edmonton route stops locally in Nampa and High Prairie. The Peace River to Grande Prairie route stops in Grimshaw, Berwyn, Fairview, and Rycroft.

“You can go to the depot or get online tickets. All options are open,” Kadiyala says.

The Cold Shot station is off River Road in Peace River at #3 9710 94 Street. Cold Shot also has a station in Fort St. John, B.C., and offers a Monday to Saturday route from Fort St. John to Grande Prairie, stopping in Dawson Creek and Hythe. In Edmonton, passengers can take shuttle service from the Edmonton International Airport to Cold Shot’s Edmonton passenger terminal.

And while Greyhound cited lack of sustainability as a reason for shutting down their services, Cold Shot is seeing a growth in demand.

“It’s increasing day by day,” Kadiyala says.

Cold Shot is also planning to add new features to their buses to increase passenger comfort.

“Pretty soon we will offer WiFi service on our buses. We are working on that at no extra cost to the passengers. Most of our buses already have chargers for people to plug in their mobiles,” says Kadiyala.

Besides their passenger service, Cold Shot also offers parcel services including next day delivery to all cities and rural areas across Alberta.

The company website allows customers to track their packages online by entering their tracking number.

For more information on Cold Shot’s parcel service, routes and rates, visithttp://www. coldshot.ca

Another option for bus service in the Peace is Northern Express Bus Line Ltd., based in High Level. The company has been operating since 2005, starting out with 14-passenger vans.

“The latest shut down of Greyhound really didn’t have a lot of effect on our existing business in that they had shut down a lot of our service areain 2011,” says general manager Simon Juckes. “We were actually operating before they initially shut down in the first round of cuts when they shut down a lot of our northern prairie runs. All its really done is we’v eexpanded a little bit and started a Grande Prairie to Edmonton run that they were running.”

“As far as our existing runs it had little to no effect because we were serving those runs without them on [those runs] anyway.”

Northern Express currently has five main routes: High Level to Edmonton, High Level to Peace River to Grande Prairie, Peace River to Grande Prairie, Cold Lake to Edmonton, and Edmonton to Valleyview to Grande Prairie.

In Peace River the bus stops at Freson IGA, in Grimshaw it stops at Subway, in Fairview it stops at Dunvegan Inn, and in Grande Prairie it stops at the Petro Canada/A&W Truck Stop on Highway 43 west.

The company’s website says, “Sometimes, more people show up at the departure point than we were expecting, so we put another bus on the road — We never leave anyone behind.”

“That’s something we still stand by,” Juckes says. “It hasn’t happened very often, but if we fill up a bus with 55 people we’ll figure out how to get the rest of the people there.”

Juckes says while some routes have changed a little over the years, Peace region residents can depend on their continued bus service.

“We’re going to continue to service the routes we have. We want to continue to service the region and provide that public transportation because it is still a very essential part of people’s lives.”

Besides passenger service, Northern Express also offers crew changes, freight shipping, and group charters in either 55 passenger coaches with washrooms or 14 passenger vans.

Visit http://northern express.ca for routes and rates.

 

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