TORONTO (AP) — Greyhound Canada is permanently cutting all bus routes across the country, shutting down the intercity bus carrier’s operations in Canada after nearly a century of service.
The motor coach company said its remaining routes in Ontario and Quebec will cease permanently on Thursday.
Its American affiliate, Greyhound Lines, Inc., will continue to operate cross-border routes to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver once the border reopens.
The decision comes a year after Greyhound Canada temporarily suspended all service due to a sharp decline in passengers and mounting travel restrictions amid the first wave of COVID-19.
The bus carrier has struggled for years with declining ridership, increasing competition and deregulation.
But the complete loss of so-called farebox revenue during the pandemic has forced the company to permanently cease operations, said Greyhound Canada senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick.
“It’s been a very tough decision and one we’ve taken with a heavy heart,” he said. “It’s been a lifeline for many Canadians for more than 90 years. This will have a massive impact.”
The decision is a blow to rural and remote areas that rely on a patchwork of private intercity bus companies for transportation.
The service has long been part of a network linking smaller communities and big cities, offering an affordable and convenient mode of travel for everyone from essential workers and students to the elderly and backpackers.
Yet the rise in car ownership, ride sharing, discount airlines and urban migration has slowly eroded bus ridership, leading Greyhound Canada to gradually reduce the frequency of some services and cut other routes altogether.
Multiple coach bus companies teamed up and approached the federal and provincial governments for financial aid amid mounting COVID-19 restrictions. But Kendrick said they were referred to existing pandemic supports — what he called “negligible” for the beleaguered passenger transportation industry — prompting Greyhound Canada to temporarily suspend all service last May.
About 260 employees were laid off after Greyhound Canada temporarily ended its passenger service last May. An additional 45 employees will be laid off as a result of the permanent closure, Kendrick said.
Riders across Canada said they were disappointed by Greyhound’s closure, such as 68-year-old Robyn Brown, who used to take the Greyhound bus to travel to Toronto when she lived in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Now living in Vancouver, Brown has also used Greyhound bus routes to visit friends from smaller towns in British Columbia that aren’t serviced by other forms of public transit.
Before the pandemic, she and her husband planned to take a Greyhound from Vancouver to Winnipeg to save on travel fare.
“I’m really sad to see that it’s going, I really am,” she said, adding that she would now fly to Winnipeg or Toronto if she wanted to travel between provinces.
Lisa Baril in Calgary said she has childhood memories of taking a Greyhound bus to visit her grandparents in Kelwood, Manitoba.
As an adult, Baril said she would pick up her grandmother from the Greyhound station in Calgary whenever she’d visit.
“She would say (Greyhound’s closure) is a shame,” said Baril about her late grandmother. “She would probably get frustrated and say ‘well how am I going to see you guys now?’”
Michael Clark, 35, from Waterloo, Ont., said that in college, he used to take the Greyhound bus almost every month to visit his parents in Kingston, Ontario, from Ottawa.
“When I moved back to Kingston, I would take day trips into Toronto on weekends by catching the earliest and latest buses in and out,” he said, calling the closure “a horrible loss” for smaller towns in Ontario.