Locals and visitors are upset about Greyhound Canada's plans to end passenger service in the Prairies this fall.
Earlier this week, Greyhound Canada announced that due to declining ridership it would be discontinuing its passenger and freight service October 31 in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, most of B.C., and west of Sudbury in northern Ontario.
"It's pretty sad for others who have to travel," said Prema Greedharry, who was at the North Battleford bus station Wednesday while visiting friends in the area. "It's not convenient. I don't think it's very good, especially in the wintertime."
The company said in a release its ridership has dropped by almost 41 per cent across Canada since 2010.
One Biggar resident, who declined to give his name, said he is worried about the bus service ending, saying "there are a lot of people who are going to be hurt by it."
He said he knows a number of seniors who need the service since they don't drive.
North Battleford lawyer Benedict Feist said he is concerned about the likelihood of more people having to hitchhike on the highways, putting their safety at risk, without the Greyhound service. After the provincial cut of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company bus service last year, he said this will only add to the challenges for people relying on a bus service.
"There are a lot of people that are dependent on the bus," Feist said, adding northern communities, First Nations, and seniors especially need the service. "I'm quite disappointed in the bus being cancelled, and how it’s going to impact people here in town. A year ago the Sask Party said that private corporations would fill the gap when they cut STC, and we're seeing that that was false."
Peter Hamel, Greyhound's regional vice-president for Western Canada, said it is unfortunate but Greyhound needed to end the service in the Prairies due to growing losses.
"This is a difficult decision that Greyhound has had to make," he said. "This is certainly not something that has come lightly over the last short period. This is a decision that has been based on conversations over the last five years where we could no longer sustain the losses. So, unfortunately, at this time there is a sunset date and that's October 31."
Saskatchewan Provincial Government Spokesperson Jim Billington said in an email that the government is "optimistic that other private sector companies will be able to begin providing transportation services or expand their current service offerings to impacted communities where the demand exists along the Trans-Canada and Yellowhead Highways."
He said similar to Greyhound, the province discontinued the STC due to a 35 per cent decrease in ridership since 2012.
"The publicly-subsidized operation of bus services remains unfeasible and would require massive taxpayer subsidies of over $80 million over the next five years. As such, the decision to wind-down operations at the STC will not be revisited," Billington said.
On Twitter: @battlefordsNOW
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