Greyhound bus driver Brent Clark, who has been with the company since 1983, does a walk-around before moving the bus to a parking lot after arriving in Whistler, B.C., from Vancouver on Wednesday October 31, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Greyhound exit leaves gap for homeless, domestic violence shelters

Greyhound wound down all but one of its routes in Western Canada on Wednesday

Organizations that help the homeless and those fleeing domestic violence say they have lost a vital resource with Greyhound’s exit from the West —and they’re not sure how well a patchwork of alternatives will be able to fill the gap.

Awo Taan Healing Lodge, a 32-bed emergency shelter for women and children in Calgary, has relied heavily on the bus company over the years, said executive director Josie Nepinak.

Many of the lodge’s clients come from rural areas and often public transportation is the only safe option, she said.

“They could perhaps be pushed into more vulnerable kinds of situations where they might hitchhike — and I have seen that happen — therefore putting them at greater risk, not only of violence, but potentially homicide as well.”

READ MORE: Greyhound to end bus service in B.C., Alberta

Greyhound wound down all but one of its routes in Western Canada and northern Ontario on Wednesday. Only a U.S.-run route from Seattle to Vancouver remains.

Several regional companies have come forward to offer bus services and have taken over 87 per cent of the abandoned Greyhound routes, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said this week.

Garneau said Ottawa will work with the provinces to come up with alternatives to service the remaining routes. As well, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott said her department will subsidize bus services to remote Indigenous communities where needed.

Nepinak said it’s good new companies are stepping in to handle Greyhound’s old routes, but she admits she’s not familiar yet with what’s out there.

READ MORE: Fragmented bus service market emerges as Greyhound exits

READ MORE: Wilson’s Transportation hails new bus service to B.C. Interior

She said staff at her organization, and others like it, work flat out, and Greyhound’s exit makes their jobs more difficult.

“There needs to be a central place in order to find that information and many of us are so busy.”

There is no emergency homeless shelter in Revelstoke, B.C., a picturesque mountain community just off the Trans-Canada Highway.

Cathy Girling, who does homeless outreach for Community Connections in Revelstoke, said her group would sometimes purchase Greyhound tickets for people to get to larger B.C. centres for a place to sleep.

“I’m not sure where we’re going from here,” she said. ”We’re taking it as it goes and seeing what happens.”

Revelstoke is now served by Regina-based Rider Express, which has stops along the Trans-Canada between Vancouver and Calgary. The westbound bus stops once daily in Revelstoke at 1 p.m. The eastbound bus comes at 3:25 a.m.

There is no bus connection from Revelstoke south to population centres in the Okanagan Valley such as Vernon or Kelowna.

“We’re a small community that is already quite isolated,” said Girling. “It adds to our isolation.”

In Brandon, Man., Greyhound helped connect people in need with their support networks — whether they be friends, families or social services, said John Jackson, executive director of Samaritan House Ministries.

“In Manitoba … the geographical distances between towns and cities is so vast,” he said.

“Multiple times we have made arrangements to purchase clients’ bus tickets using Greyhound’s services. The fact that that has gone away is going to leave a very big gap.”

Jackson said it’s too soon to tell how helpful alternative bus services will be.

“The concern is you need a company that has good infrastructure and is reputable and is going to provide a reliable service.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Smithers golfer competes in university golf nationals

Mitchell Turko shot a final round 73 to finish tied for 24th

Climate, reconciliation and industry top all candidates agenda in Terrace

Debate was the candidate’s last opportunity to address voters in a public forum

Smithers fighter wins bronze at karate worlds

Lando Ball narrowly missed a chance to fight in the gold medal match in Austria

Climate change, economy and reconciliation take centre stage at Oct. 15 All-Candidates Forum

Six of the eight candidates were in attendance at the Smithers event

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Most Read