Like he’s done countless times, Dwayne Hawkins will process bus tickets for destinations north and south this week.
He’ll load and unload buses full of luggage; he’ll load and unload courier trucks.
Then, come Wednesday, the 23-year Greyhound employee is out of a job, as the Vernon depot will be among those in B.C. closing as the company shuts down its bus service in Western Canada.
“I was a courier driver for three years, been in the office the last three years and done shipping, receiving and doing tickets,” said Hawkins, one of three Greyhound employees in Vernon affected by Wednesday’s closure.
(The restaurant in the building remains open; see more below).
The last Greyhound from Vernon north to Prince George leaves the depot at 9:40 a.m. Tuesday. The last bus to Salmon Arm and then to Calgary leaves Tuesday at 12:45 p.m.
On the last official day, the final buses to pull out of Vernon will do so at 9:40 a.m., for Kamloops and Vancouver, and then, the final bus will be heading for Kelowna and points further south at 10:05 a.m.
According to Eve Harris’ book, 75 Years of Greyhound Canada, bus service in Vernon began in 1929 as B.C. Coach Lines, and the original terminal was located behind Nolan’s Drugs.
Greyhound purchased routes after the Second World War, in 1945, from B.C. Coach Lines and Vernon-Salmon Arm Coach Lines.
In 1955-56, the original depot gave way to the current building at 30th Street and 31st Avenue.
The B.C. government announced Monday that 83 per cent of Greyhound’s routes will be covered by other private operators by year’s end, meaning British Columbians will still be able to travel safely, affordably and reliably through most of the province.
In making the announcement, Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said she will continue to work with communities and the private sector to find solutions for the 17 per cent of routes that will be without service.
“For so many British Columbians, reliable bus service is critical for work, family life, health care and so much more,” Trevena said. “I’m pleased that private bus operators have stepped up and worked with us to make sure British Columbians will continue to travel around our province safely and affordably.”
One such operator is Ebus, a scheduled passenger motorcoach company that has been servicing Alberta since 2011 while its sister brand, Red Arrow, the only luxury coach service of its kind in Canada, has been connecting people and communities in Alberta for almost 40 years.
In an effort to support the travel needs of B.C. and avoid an interruption of service to the communities, Ebus has announced that we’ll be starting its service Wednesday. The website and reservation system is currently being updated and online bookings are now live.
Stop locations include one in Vernon: 32nd Avenue approaching 31st Street (near the clock tower).
The bus is scheduled to leave daily for Kelowna at 8:45 a.m. and 6:15 p.m., and daily to Kamloops at 2:10 p.m. and 11:40 p.m.
Other stop locations in the Thompson-Okanagan include Kelowna Airport and as-yet-unnamed sites in West Kelowna and Kamloops. Stops will also be featured in Merritt, Hope, Abbotsford, Surrey, Vancouver and Richmond.
“Ebus B.C. will be a fully cashless operation,” said the company in a release. “We will accept credit and debit cards only. All fares are non-refundable and non-changeable.”
All Ebus passengers who book online, said the company, save five per cent.
The bus will only stop in Vernon if tickets have been purchased ahead of time, by online or via phone. If there’s nobody looking to get on in Vernon, the bus will not stop.
Bookings can be done at myebus.ca or toll-free at 1-877-769-3287.
EATOLOGY RESTAURANT OPEN
The restaurant at the Vernon Greyhound will stay open.
Eatology owners have a lease with Greyhound that is due for renewal at the end of the year.
“We’re still here,” said restaurant owner Kristina Klein, adding she’s in negotiations with Greyhound (which owns the building) to buy the facility.
“We’ve been going back and forth. It’s an American company so there are different commercial rules and things.”
If able to successfully negotiate an offer to purchase the building, Klein said the restaurant would be renovated and part of the building would be leased for another venture.