‘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

Penticton shelter meeting current need, accepting donations of blankets, clothing

The shelter offers 30 beds year-round and 25 more temporarily over the winter

Okanagan Similkameen could have a sister city in the south of France

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen considering agreement with wine region in southern France

Nature Wise: Thoughts in parting

Bob Handfield passes Nature Wise column on

Bob Ross is coming to Penticton in 2020

32 of the late painter and TV celebrity’s works will be on display at the Penticton Art Gallery

Princess Maggie presents Children’s Winter Carnival on Dec. 14

The Leadership class is hosting the event from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Doors open to Vernon’s first refill store

Vernon’s Refill Store may be answer to plastics problem

Okanagan RCMP not toying around when it comes to impaired drivers

Saturday, Dec. 7 is National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Crown delves into Sagmoen’s history with North Okanagan sex workers

Decision on validity of police search warrant will be made on Monday, Dec. 9

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

Summerland businesses participate in Sip N’ Shop

Downtown event on Dec. 14 will feature local beverages

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Most Read