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Greyhound cuts have transportation services looking to pick up business
Ride share services in Winnipeg are exploring how they could fill a gap in service when Greyhound discontinues trips across the Prairies on Oct. 31.
Alberta-based TappCar began operating in Winnipeg in March.
The company tells CTV News it’s looking to meet with the federal government and Greyhound to figure out how to it could potentially service inter-community travel.
TappCar spokesperson John Morris said the company is looking at everything from larger passenger vehicles, to picking up people who rely on Greyhound for medical appointments.
He said it may be easier to service communities within a couple hours’ distance to Winnipeg, compared to northern communities.
Starting Wednesday TappCar will offer riders the option to travel within Steinbach and between Steinbach and Winnipeg.
It’s also looking at communities that could support a ride share company, such as Portage la Prairie, who is serviced by Greyhound.
Otherwise TappCar does not do inter-city trips.
Portage Mayor concerned
Portage la Prairie Mayor Irvine Ferris said the news came as a shock.
At least one trip from Winnipeg to Portage Tuesday was sold out.
“Not sure what alternative is left,” he said in a phone call with CTV News.
“Even though we knew ridership is down, it's even more devastating for more remote and northern communities.”
He said people who don’t have vehicle access use Greyhound to get to medical appointments, and businesses use it “for shipping good like building supply companies, dealerships, and other small retailers.”
Greyhound said Tuesday it blames a 41 per cent decline in ridership since 2010, persistent competition from subsidized national and inter-regional passenger transportation services, the growth of new low-cost airlines, regulatory constraints and the continued growth of car ownership, as reasons for the service cancellation.
Canada’s Transportation Minister Marc Garneau released a statement which reads in part:
“There are no federal government funding programs that would provide an operational subsidy for private intercity bus carriers, as there has not been a requirement for such programs.”
“In 2010, a task force of the provinces and the federal government recommended that there was no need for a national program to subsidize the operations of intercity bus carriers, but that individual jurisdictions could subsidize specific routes and carriers on a case-by-case basis.”
Ikwe Safe Rides concerned about meeting demand
Ikwe Safe Rides is also exploring how to meet demand when Greyhound halts service.
Co-director Christine Brouzes said its ride share service is the only non-profit organization approved by the City of Winnipeg to operate outside of those operating under the vehicles-for-hire bylaw. It services all women and families.
Brouzes said right now Ikwe Safe Ride does between 2 to 10 out-of-town trips a week.
Brouzes they will have a meeting to discuss how Greyhound’s decision will impact their service.
She they said they are concerned about meeting the need, because the service already struggles with having enough drivers, and not all of its drivers are willing to do trips out of town.
She is currently looking for volunteer drivers to meet the gaps.
Brouzes said drivers will take passengers to Portage, Steinbach, Selkirk and First Nations communities within an hour of Winnipeg.
She said they don’t have set prices and all out of town trips are based on return costs, which usually run between $30 and $40. The service will also take people to Brandon, if requested in advance, Brouzes said.
Brouzes said last summer Ikwe Safe Rides also rented a bus with a paid female driver to coordinate an out-of-town trip to the beach with clients, something it’s considering doing again and more frequently.
Manitoba bus company weighs in
Beaver Bus Lines used to operate a bus route in between Selkirk and Winnipeg, but ceased to two years ago due to declining ridership.
The company now focuses on charters, tours and servicing a private school in Winnipeg.
“It’s a big change for sure,” said general manager John Fehr, reacting to Greyhound’s move.
“You hear ridership is down, so I guess they were looking for subsidies.
“The bottom line, people want convenience. A big part of it, is we want things quicker, faster, cheaper … maybe riding a bus for several hours isn’t a good option for them.”
When asked if government had a role to play, Fehr said he believes subsidies to create cross-Canada transportation would be the only way it would work.
At least one bus transport company appears to be looking at covering some of the gaps in service.
Kasper Transportation based out of Thunder Bay, Ont. posted on its Facebook page it plans to offer new routes when Greyhound folds.
Online it said it plans to offer travel to and from Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, Winnipeg and Thompson, and as well as Winnipeg, connecting Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.
Winnipeg bus terminal future
The Winnipeg Airports Authority tells CTV News Greyhound leased the terminal space.
“It’s unfortunate for the employees and travellers – situations like these are never easy. Greyhound notified WAA of their business decision yesterday and they are still abiding by the agreements we had in place for their operations in their terminal on the airport campus.”
“With the decision just happening, there are still moving parts here. We’ll continue discussing with Greyhound shortly on next steps for the immediate future of their terminal. We’ll also have further conversations with them about the fall as the date gets closer,” said spokesperson Michael Badejo.