Feds must do more to save bus service: NDP

By Glenn Hicks
July 12, 2018 - 12:00pm

The NDP MP for Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River says the federal government has an obligation to either save Greyhound bus service in Western Canada or help subsidize a new one.

Greyhound announced this week it is terminating all their routes across Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba in the fall, with the last bus to run Oct. 31. The comapny said they’d seen a 41 per cent decline in demand in the last eight years and the services have become financially unsustainable.

“While there are no routes in my riding, this is very disheartening news,” Georgina Jolibois told paNOW. “Many northerners across Canada travel by bus and they also need to get to medical appointments.”

Some private businesses have expressed interest in taking over some of the passenger and freight routes being dropped by Greyhound, and there is even preliminary interest in reviving some of the already-defunct inter-city services in Saskatchewan. While Jolibois welcomed any private interest on economic development grounds, she said it was ultimately the federal government’s responsibility to handle interprovincial transport.

“First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, rural, northern and farming communities are all affected, and this is showing these residents don’t seem to have a priority with the Liberal government," Jolibois said.

Greyhound said it tried to lobby Ottawa for financial assistance in recent years without success, which Jolibois said showed the federal government’s priorities were misguided. She cited the Trudeau government’s recent public purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline as an example of the misplaced priorities.

“They can purchase a leaky pipeline for $4.6 billion and up to an additional $15 billion, and that’s a taxpayer-funded initiative," she argued. “If they can bail out [the pipeline], why can’t it bail out the Greyhound bus?”

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has sent a letter to the prime minister asking him to take ``immediate action'' to stop the cancellation of the routes in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, northwestern Ontario, and rural British Columbia. He’s calling for a funding plan that won't leave remote communities stranded.

“The government must and should do more to ensure there is a bus route,” said Jolibois. “Either revive Greyhound or, if not, assist in having a bus available for residents across Western Canada.”

--With files from The Canadian Press.


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