Friday, September 4, 2009

Greyhound Bus Service in Manitoba, NW Ont. to end.

Much as I dislike John Baird in this case he hits the nail on the head. Greyhound is attempting to bully Manitoba and Ontario into providing subsidies and/or allowing them to drop services to smaller communities. In the articles I have seen it sounds as if Greyhound is going to stop all service in Manitoba and NW Ontario but this makes little sense. Greyhound just opened a new terminal in Winnipeg. Presumably Greyhound would still serve Winnipeg and probably Brandon and Kenora at the least. There are many smaller towns that buses travelling on the Trans-Canada west and east that it would be simple enough for Greyhound to serve in some manner. Even in smaller places considerable freight goes by bus. Greyhound just wants the highest volume stops and will demand subsidies to do anything more. This is an obvious area for the government to jump in and serve the people. Perhaps it might boost NDP fortunes in some parts of rural Manitoba. They certainly need boosting!
If the NDP were any sort of leftist party they would immediately start a Manitoba Transportation Company as Saskatchewan did and ensure service to smaller communities. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. While reactionary regimes such as Saudi Arabia earn billions from oil revenues Canada has no state oil company. Canadian provinces compete with each other to see who can give the best deal to global oil companies so that most profits go to private corporations not the public purse. The NDP policy is no exception. The Sask. NDP had lower royalties than Conservative Alberta--but this did not save them from defeat at the polls! Note that as of now Greyhound is owned by Laidlaw headquartered in Texas. They could care less if small towns in Manitoba and Northwest Ontario have any adequate bus service.

Greyhound bus service in Man., NW Ont. to end News Staff
Greyhound Canada has served notice that it's ceasing operations in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, saying it's in a "dire" financial situation due to government regulations that force it to serve remote communities.
The bus company is also re-examining its routes in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Greyhound is giving 30 days' notice to the Manitoba Highway Traffic Board to ensure that passenger tickets sold to date in that province can be honoured.
In Ontario, Greyhound is giving 90 days' notice to the Ontario Highway Transport Board. Greyhound service in northwestern Ontario will stop as of Dec. 2.
"The decision to cease our operations in Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba was a very difficult one. We have repeatedly asked the federal and provincial governments to change the existing legislative and regulatory regimes that govern inter-city bus operations," said Stuart Kendrick, senior vice president of Greyhound Canada, in a news release.
"Our financial situation is dire and we are no longer in a position to absorb losses that are almost solely attributable to government policies."
Greyhound added, however, that it will continue to work with the federal and provincial governments over the next 30 to 90 days to try to work on a solution to maintain its service to rural passengers.
Reacting to the news, Federal Transport Minister John Baird accused Greyhound of trying to bully the provinces -- and that the company is being "heavy handed" in an effort to wrestle subsidies from provincial governments.
"What this is, really, is a multi-national company attempting to shake down tax payers," Baird told CTV News Channel from Ottawa on Thursday.
However, Kendrick said the company is simply asking the government to take "leadership role" to insure Canadians aren't left stranded.
He added that Greyhound is asking for a "short-term operating subsidy grant" of between $15 million and $20 million to ensure service can continue.
"We don't want to exit Canada, we don't want to exit any of the routes we're on now," Kendrick said.
However, he noted that the routes just aren't profitable meaning the country's transportation structure could be "fractured."
Greyhound, whose U.S. parent is based in Texas, is the largest provider of intercity bus transportation in Canada. The company says it serves nearly 700 communities and offers 1,000 daily departures across the country. It also operates in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

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