Buses will be rolling through Salmon Arm when Greyhound ceases service at the end of October. But where they stop between the Alberta border and Vancouver has yet to be determined.
Rider Express Transportation in Regina, Sask. has announced it will operate a passenger and parcel service between Winnipeg and Vancouver.
Company rep Shauna Hardy told the Observer the twice-daily service will stop in some of the smaller centres on the route, but stops and schedules have not yet been established. They are expected to be available at the end of next week.
The issue was discussed at the last Columbia Shuswap Regional District board meeting before the Oct. 20 election as directors responded to a letter from Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).
In response to an Aug. 10 letter from the board outlining concerns, Trevena agreed a lack of bus service would isolate small communities and possibly leave people along rural routes vulnerable – including Indigenous communities, women, seniors, children and those living with disabilities.
Trevena pointed out Greyhound’s 90-day deadline left the province scrambling to develop alternatives.
As well as meeting with her counterparts in other provinces to see what they were doing, Trevena says she also wrote to the federal minister of transport to advocate for people who need access to safe, reliable and affordable transportation options.
In her Sept. 28 letter, Trevena assured CSRD chair Rhona Martin that the minister is working closely with other provinces and Ottawa to find solutions to address the national issue as quickly as possible.
“The provincial government is also encouraging private sector service providers to consider opportunities to fill the space left by Greyhound,” she wrote, pointing out the Passenger Transportation Board has made new applications for inter-city bus service a priority and introduced a simplified application package. “We are encouraged that a number of companies have expressed interest in operating some of the routes abandoned by Greyhound.”
In the meantime, directors at the Oct. 18 CSRD board meeting expressed hope the new service might even be an improvement.
“It sounds like there won’t be bricks and mortar (stations), just pick-up places and online booking,” said Martin, expressing concern about people who do not have computers and have other poverty issues. “Maybe it will be a better service in the end.”
Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz said the Sicamous and District Chamber of Commerce operates the Greyhound service and could easily accommodate another company.
“It looks promising,” he said.