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

Neonatal nurse practitioner joins NICU care team

Babies requiring specialized care at Red Deer Hospital have extra set of hands caring for them

The old Greyhound Bus Depot is being demolished

The Red Deer building has been around for decades

Official torchbearers for 2019 Canada Winter Games announced

Canada Games officials open time capsule from Grande Prairie Games in 1995

Alberta Health Services, United Nurses of Alberta reach agreement to settle union grievance of nursing staffing shortage

Settlement includes the designation of 11.7 full-time-equivalent Registered Nurse relief positions

UPDATE: Two 12-year-olds have been found safe in Airdrie

Public tips were received which led the RCMP to locate the children this morning

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

Olivia and Liam top list for Alberta baby names in 2018

Premier Rachel Notley announced the top baby names in Alberta in 2018; Loki didn’t make the cut

Edmonton Police charged 236 people with auto theft in 2018

Police states many of the thefts are crimes of opportunity

Woman’s complaint leads to sexual assault charge against Calgary priest

Malcolm Joe D’Souza, who is 62, has been charged with one count of sexual assault

Saudi teen who was granted asylum in Canada says she’s a lucky one

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was fleeing abusive family back home

New migrant caravan sets out from Honduras for U.S.

Caravan has about 300 people, mainly women and children

British Parliament nears historic vote on Brexit

A ‘no’ vote would throw British politics into further turmoil

Most Read