Greyhound’s decision to cancel all passenger bus and freight services in Alberta will likely have a major impact on communities in the Grande Prairie region. Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA Wayne Drysdale believes the move will even further isolate people in remote areas.
“Small communities in rural northern Alberta sometimes rely on that bus service and it’s disappointing to hear it’s going to discontinue,” he says. “Some of the small, remote communities already have lost the service, but even just Grande Prairie to Edmonton to go to a doctor’s appointment isn’t going to be there now.”
Greyhound Canada announced Monday that it is ending its service to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba effective the end of October, along with all but one route in B.C. The company says fewer people are taking advantage of their routes.
“We understand that these route changes are difficult for our customers,” says Senior Vice President Stuart Kendrick. “Despite best efforts over several years, ridership has dropped nearly 41 per cent across the country since 2010 within a changing and increasingly challenging transportation environment. Simply put, we can no longer operate unsustainable routes.”
The decline has partly been blamed on the growth of new low-cost airlines. County of Grande Prairie Reeve Leanne Beaupre argues that has nothing to do with transportation in rural areas.
“Obviously they don’t know who their customers are, because the flights don’t stop in those small towns. That’s not one of the reasons that they should be looking at cancelling the bus service to these smaller towns.”
The decision will likely have an impact on the regional transit service pilot project the County and the communities of Sexsmith, Clairmont, Wembley, Beaverlodge, and Hythe are working on to connect their residents to the City of Grande Prairie. Beaupre says it could be used to pick up some of the slack if the need is proven.
“With today’s announcement, I’m sure that those who are doing the administrative look at it may consider that, because there may be more of an interest. If there are people that are interested in that service they should make sure that they contact the municipality that they live in and just let them know that they do require that certain schedule.”
Drysdale says he has reached out to Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason to find out what could be done. In the meantime, he’s hopeful another service could help fill the void.