‘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

Being Young: ‘Golden period,’ after exams

I should be plenty entertained over the summer.

Easter egg hunts and fun for families

More events scheduled for Sunday in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Bobcats, bears, and otters, oh my!

Critter Care Wildlife Society’s 20th anniversary gala set for next Saturday in Langley

Victoria ‘reviewing options’ for removing convicted councillors

Pitt Meadows lobbied for change after David Murray’s sex assault conviction

Cubetto teaches kids the building blocks of coding

Fraser Valley Regional Library’s wooden robot coming to Maple Ridge in May

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Most Read