Thursday, September 03, 2009

Is Greyhound Canada reaching the end of the road?

"Despite numerous attempts over the years to adjust this business model in order to gain a profitable footing, Greyhound Canada has now run out of options,"-- Stuart Kendrick, Senior Vice President Greyhound Canada outlining some of the background behind Thursday's announcement that the bus line is cancelling its service in Manitoba and Northwest Ontario and reviewing the rest of its operations in Western Canada.

The familiar sight of a silver and white Greyhound inter city bus on Western Canadian highways may soon be fading from view.

In a surprise announcement Thursday the iconic bus line served notice in Ontario and Manitoba that it planned to cease operations across Manitoba and into Northwest Ontario effective in 30 days in Manitoba and 90 days in Ontario, the opening move in a game of High stakes poker with the federal and provincial governments.

The bus company also advised that it is putting its entire operations in Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia the Yukon and Northwest Territories under review. As part of their statement and press release Greyhound's Vice President Stuart Kendrick declared that "Our financial situation is dire and we are no longer in a position to absorb losses that are almost solely attributable to government policies."

The bus line has been struggling financially over the years, reducing routes and cutting frequency as was the case in Prince Rupert recently when the number of trips in and out of the city were cut.

The bus line is the largest inter city carrier in the nation and provides service to 700 communities and offers 1,000 daily departures across the country some profitable, many not so.

The latest move is the company's way of drawing attention to its financial plight in a most dramatic fashion, no doubt hoping for some assistance both financially and regulatory from the various levels of government. Greyhound points towards the various regulations put in place by government regarding inter city travel and how they have been slowly drained of money through their subsidies on money losing routes that they are not allowed to reduce or abandon.

Should the bus line not find relief from their troubles, many of Canada's communities will suddenly find themselves without any form of transportation in and out of their towns.

If British Columbia were to suffer the same fate as Manitoba and Northwest Ontario, the impact would be immense for many communities that rely on the bus as their main form of transportation and shipping.

In the Prince Rupert to Prince George corridor, Greyhound provides the only daily link between communities on Highway 16 an end to that service would leave the region with only a three times a week rail link for communities between the two cities, until some other operator took up the challenge of inter city bus transportation, providing anyone is so inclined.

Update: 5 PM
Government officials dismissed much of the Greyhound rhetoric of Thursday as a form of a shakedown or bullying, that as word came out that Greyhound was seeking 15 million dollars from government to reconsider it's plans to shut down service.

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