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Transit providers say Greyhound’s pullout could present expansion opportunities

Intercity transit providers say they’re looking at opportunities for expansion in the wake of Greyhound Canada’s decision to cease operations last week.

Megabus, which has an extensive coach bus network in North America, already announced it would now service Ottawa four days of the week in a new route spanning Toronto, Kingston, Ont., and the nation’s capital.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a bit of time,” said Colin Emberson, vice president of retail at Megabus, which is launching regular service out of Ottawa for the first time.

“But obviously the news last Thursday prompted us to move a little bit quicker and get the route out there sooner than we anticipated.”

Ottawa is one of many Ontario communities that lost regular coach service from Greyhound after it pulled out of the country last week, as a result of falling ridership and struggles from the pandemic.

Greyhound’s departure from the Canadian market comes after its shutdown of intercity services in Western Canada in 2018.

Emberson said Greyhound’s closure presents opportunities for further expansions in Ontario and Quebec, although there are no concrete plans yet.

Metrolinx, the Crown agency that provides regional public transport in southern Ontario, also said it would work with the provincial government around possible expansions in the wake of Greyhound’s closure.

“We are disappointed in the news that a transportation partner has ended service as a variety of service is good for the people of Ontario,” said Fannie Sunshine, a Metrolinx spokeswoman, in a statement.

“In the coming weeks, we will work with our partners at (the Ministry of Transportation) to determine if there is a role for Metrolinx and GO Transit in filling the gap in service.”

Matti Siemiatycki, a University of Toronto professor specializing in transportation, said the expansion of services from providers like GO Transit and Via Rail in recent years could have been part of what led to Greyhound’s eventual demise.

He pointed out that Via Rail in particular had heavily invested in the densely populated Toronto-Montreal corridor.

Siemiatycki. said more options, including ride-hailing have started to fill the gap.

“And Via Rail started to compete more vigorously, so now Greyhound was competing with a heavily subsidized alternative.”

He said it’s clear people were looking to other providers in recent years because “Greyhound’s announcement talked about how the fare box wasn’t covering their costs anymore.”

Siemiatycki said there will inevitably be a spillover of transit riders looking for alternative ways to travel around the region, whether it’s through other bus companies, rail transit, or even ride-hailing services.

“The trips are going to go somewhere, when one player in the market leaves, that creates opportunity for others,” said Siemiatycki.

“There will be a question where travellers will go to ΓǪ it could be Coach Canada, it could be Megabus, it could be Via Rail.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2021



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