‘A blooming shame:’ Greyhound officially ends service in B.C.

Greyhound announced in July that it would wind down all but one of its routes in Western Canada and northern Ontario.

Retired bus driver Iain Gray ambled through Calgary’s cavernous Greyhound depot on its last day in operation, a gold pin with the bus company’s logo on his jacket.

Gray dropped by the station on Wednesday — the last day for must Greyhound routes in Western Canada — in the hopes of visiting a former colleague after his final run from Revelstoke, B.C.

Schedules were changed and it turns out the two friends missed each other.

“It’s just a blooming shame,” Gray, who is 77 and drove buses for 30 years until 2003, said of Greyhound’s exit.

“It’s the best place to work at. You couldn’t imagine how good it was.”

Greyhound announced in July that it would wind down all but one of its routes in Western Canada and northern Ontario. A U.S.-run route from Seattle to Vancouver is the only one that remains.

Gray said he loved doing local runs, particularly through the Crowsnest Pass in southwestern Alberta and into the British Columbia Interior.

“I liked going through the little towns and the people,” he said. ”You get to know the agents and all that kind of stuff.”

READ MORE: Fragmented bus service market emerges as Greyhound exits Western Canada Oct. 31

Two weeks ago, he flew to Salmon Arm, B.C., to go fishing with his brother and decided to take the Greyhound back to Calgary.

“The bus was full, believe it or not,” said Gray, who noted that service had been reduced to two trips a day from five or six.

“If you talk to the driver, those trips are full, but that’s not enough to keep the company running.”

Ottawa announced Wednesday that Canadians left isolated will have to wait two years for potential permanent replacements. Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the government is open to helping affected provinces pay for bus service in communities where other companies have not taken over.

As well, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott said her department will subsidize bus services to remote Indigenous communities where needed.

Greyhound’s decision ends service in some 400 communities and leaves about 420 people out of work, said senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick, who was at the Calgary depot to oversee its closure.

The carrier has been active in Canada for about 85 years, but has seen a 40 per cent decline in rural ridership over the last decade, he said. A rural population drop, competition from low-cost airlines and greater car use have all taken a toll, he said.

Some routes had just one bus running a day, with single-digit ridership, Kendrick added.

“You need a lot more than that to pay the bills and keep the lights on and to be viable,” he said.

“There’s a lot of mixed emotions. Obviously since the July 9 announcement, there’s a lot of sadness around by everybody.”

Several regional companies have come forward to offer bus services and have taken over 87 per cent of the abandoned Greyhound routes, Garneau said. Some of those companies have already begun operating while others are set to roll in the next few weeks.

For the remaining 13 per cent, Ottawa will work with the provinces to come up with alternatives, Garneau said.

In the meantime, German backpacker Femke Bernds said she’ll have to find a cost-effective alternative as she works her way to Vancouver from Calgary.

The 28-year-old said it was a shock to learn of Greyhound’s route closures shortly after her August arrival in Canada.

“It was not so nice. It’s a good bus to travel with and it’s not so expensive,” she said, a red rucksack slung over her shoulder.

“When you are travelling through a big country it’s good to have an option where you can travel cheaper and … that’s not so possible now.”

Terry Pedwell and Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Relationships, continuity top health-care concerns for Agassiz residents

Feedback during Fraser Health events showed access to health care needs to improve

Development on the horizon for Harrison Hot Springs Marina

The property has been the subject of a number development proposals over the years

Chilliwack Players Guild brings first ever radio play to stage

An Affair of Honour is based on a true story, written by the father of a Chilliwack man

‘Big hearts and even bigger feet’: Comedian sends Harrison humour to the silver screen

Jonny Harris will see the town highlighted on his small-town comedy series ‘Still Standing’

More staff being hired at Fraser Valley seniors homes

Number of care hours for residents lags behind provincial targets

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of Brunette overpass

Dash cam footage shows a vehicle speeding across a Lower Mainland overpass

Lower Mainland teacher resigned after ‘inappropriate discussions’ with elementary students

Tracy Joseph Fairley resigned from Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows district April 23, 2018

Surrey needs 350 more cops, activist tells council

‘Right now we are 350 police behind what our population requires,’ politicians are told

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Where mattresses go to die

Mattress Recycling opens the largest of its kind mattress-recycling facility in Hope

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Most Read