Bad news for local commuters travelling between K-W and Guelph, especially if you take the Greyhound. Starting on December 10, the bus line will be running fewer trips between the Royal City and Kitchener, merging mid-day and night schedules due to low ridership.
“Low ridership?” you say. How can that be when we see GO Transit constantly adding more trips, including hourly service between Guelph and Square One in Mississauga as of this past September? There’s the rub. Greyhound’s powers that be say that GO is eating their proverbial lunch.
“We do compete with GO Transit on the same corridors, they’ve got lots of frequency in the same areas, it’s a subsidized service and that’s difficult for us to compete with, they’re exempt form charging HST, which we are not, which makes it even more competitive for us,” David Butler, regional vice president for eastern Greyhound Canada, told CBC News.
What Butler fails to mention is that there’s no direct trip between Guelph and Kitchener on GO Transit. Sure you can go down to the Aberfoyle Park & Ride, and wait an hour to transfer to the bus that travels between Mississauga and Waterloo, but that seems pretty inconvenient. He also fails to mention that the reason we have no GO express bus between Guelph and Toronto, like Kitchener, is because Greyhound has exclusivity on that run. Greyhound has also cut the number of runs between Toronto and Guelph over the last several years.
This is bad news for our people in town who use the Greyhound, but it’s not the only bad news that the company has doled out recently. Back in August, Greyhound applied to the British Columbia Passenger Transportation Board to cancel several routes it runs in northern B.C., including ones along the so-called Highway of Tears. Government inquiries found the lack of transit options was one of the reasons why so many Aboriginal women were taken and murdered along Highway 16 over a 30 year stretch.
Meanwhile back in Ontario, and somewhat less seriously, Greyhound barely avoided a strike last month after reaching a new two-year deal with its drivers and mechanics both here and in Quebec. Greyhound had offered a deal that included a five per cent wage cut and decreases in health and welfare benefits, which was soundly, and unanimously, rejected by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1415. Union members also felt they weren’t being adequately compensated for their wait time at U.S. border crossings.
If you’re looking for a business case for more regional transit, then Guelph’s business community has one for you.
“Workforce mobility plays an important role in the ability for a community to remain competitive and ensure sustained robust growth,” said Kithio Mwanzia, President and CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce in a statement. “Transit therefore is an important part of the eco-system of competitiveness and plays an important role when it comes to business and economic development decision-making.”
Meanwhile, there are still large service gaps in our area that are not being serviced by any transit agency including GO and Greyhound. You cannot get a direct bus to Cambridge, Fergus, Stratford, London, Hamilton, St. Catherines, or Niagara Falls from Guelph, so if Greyhound’s looking for areas to grow where GO can’t touch them, those are a few suggestions.