Reading the article about Greyhound’s decision to end rural service across Western Canada effective October 31st of this year left me dumbfounded.
Yet, I can understand their decision. The fact that ridership has decreased substantially over several years would discourage any private business from continuing its operations at a deficit for such a long time.
My husband and I travel between Nelson and Ottawa once or twice a year, by air, via Castlegar. However, landing in Castlegar, no matter what the season, is often unpredictable. Rather than rebook a flight to Castlegar the next day (which may again be cancelled), we choose to book a flight to Cranbrook, overnight in Cranbrook and take the bus to Nelson the following morning.
A viable and affordable alternative, especially when our credit card company does reimburse certain expenses.
Never despair is my motto – alternatives do exist and I began searching!
The first thing I did is look for shuttle transportation between Cranbrook and Nelson and then I searched for one-way car rental opportunities.
Eureka! Both are possible but when I compared the cost to taking the bus, both alternatives are substantially more expensive than Greyhound. Shuttle service costs approximately $160 per person as long as four people are travelling. A top up of $125 per person is added if only two people are travelling, excluding taxes. A one-way car rental, depending on the type of vehicle, can range from $250 to $300 plus, excluding taxes.
I was again taken aback.
Greyhound says it remains in discussions with both provincial and other levels of government about rural connectivity. This is good news but I am not holding my breath.
I urge governments to take a hard look at finding cost effective and affordable alternatives so that all travellers commuting either for medical, pleasure or business reasons can choose public transportation to travel from one rural community to another. I, for one, find it unreasonable and unpractical to ask family and friends to drive from Nelson to Cranbrook to pick us up.