Greyhound Canada shutting down all bus service permanently

·4 min read
Greyhound Canada shutting down all bus service permanently
Greyhound announced Thursday it is cancelling all bus service in Canada permanently. (Michael Wilson/CBC - image credit)
Greyhound announced Thursday it is cancelling all bus service in Canada permanently. (Michael Wilson/CBC - image credit)

Greyhound Canada is shutting down all of its remaining bus routes in Canada, permanently.

The bus company says all of its remaining routes will cease operations as of midnight Thursday.

The iconic bus carrier pulled out of Western Canada in 2018.

It then put its remaining routes in Ontario and Quebec on pause when COVID-19 hit in 2020, but now it is pulling out of domestic Canadian service permanently.

"A full year without revenue has unfortunately made it impossible to continue operations," spokesperson Stuart Kendrick said. "We deeply regret the impact this has on our staff and our customers, as well as the communities we have had the privilege of serving for many years."

Greyhound Canada has been in operation in one form or another for nearly a century. The company says anyone with a ticket booked can get a refund up until the end of June.

Anthony Perl, a professor of urban studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., says the news did not come as a surprise, since the company's business model has been on a slow decline.

Financial challenges

"They're a for-profit company and they've proven after trying for decades that you can't make a profit trying these routes with relatively small populations," he said in an interview.

He says governments need to step up to fill the gap to ensure that bus-based transportation networks can exist, either by subsidizing them like urban bus systems or by helping to develop a hybrid model such as a co-operative, which many other countries have seen success with.

"Bus services are an essential part of the future because of their lower environmental impact," he said. "We just have to think of a way to make it economically viable."

While Greyhound bus service between Canadian destinations will end, Greyhound's U.S. parent will continue to operate five cross-border routes that either start or finish in the U.S. They are:

  • Toronto to Buffalo, N.Y.

  • Toronto to New York City.

  • Montreal to Boston.

  • Montreal to New York City.

  • Vancouver to Seattle.

In Windsor, Ont., bus patron Bobbi Day says she would normally use Greyhound to travel to Toronto on a regular basis, so she was disappointed to hear of the shutdown.

"We need more transportation here, not less," she told CBC News in an interview. "I'm going to have to carpool, I guess."

Bobbi Day says she would regularly take the bus between Windsor and Toronto, but now she will have to find alternative arrangements.
Bobbi Day says she would regularly take the bus between Windsor and Toronto, but now she will have to find alternative arrangements.(CBC)

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the federal government was also disappointed to hear of the company's decision, because so many communities depend on bus service to connect them to the rest of the country.

"We will work with our provincial partners to explore options to address this gap and provide Canadians with safe, reliable and affordable transportation across the country," he said in a Twitter post.

400 jobs lost

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents workers at the bus line, says about 400 jobs will be lost, of which 305 were unionized positions, and governments must bear some of the blame.

"The collapse of Greyhound was not a foregone conclusion; this could have been avoided if our federal and provincial governments actually cared about those in remote communities who relied on intercity bus service," ATU president John Di Nino said.

A bus depot that would normally be full of Greyhound bus travelers sits abandoned on Thursday, since the bus company has put its routes on pause because of the pandemic.
A bus depot that would normally be full of Greyhound bus travelers sits abandoned on Thursday, since the bus company has put its routes on pause because of the pandemic.(Turgut Yeter/CBC)

The federal NDP also laid blame on the government. "The loss of all remaining Greyhound bus routes leaves many communities without affordable, safe passenger transportation," Transportation Critic Taylor Bachrach said in a release. "And it disproportionately affects the most marginalized residents, including Indigenous people and seniors."

Conservative Shadow Minister for Rural Development Dane Lloyd said it is telling that the company is choosing to stay in business in the U.S. but not in Canada.

"As Greyhound continues to operate in the United States, it is difficult not to place the blame squarely on the dire economic situation in Canada," he said.

WATCH | Bus users react to Greyhound's move:

Prof. Perl agrees there are major equity issues at play because the communities and groups most likely to depend on a service like Greyhound are those who were already disadvantaged.

"It's often groups that have been treated less than fairly as a whole, First Nations communities, women of colour ... You're really condemning people to economic and social isolation," he said.

"Marginalized groups will be most affected."