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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon Vipers’ Trey Taylor wins with Team West at CJHL Top Prospects game

17-year-old defenseman also makes NHL Central Scouting list of top prospects

Vernon watercolour artist returning to spotlight

Patricia Neil Lawton is holding her first art show in 5 years at Nadine’s Fine Art and Frames, Feb. 8

Cows, cars and more: Coldstream secondary students show off capstone projects

Kalamalka Secondary seniors displayed Career Life Connections capstone projects Jan. 15

Low-level meth dealer gets 6 months jail time in Vernon

BC Supreme Court Justice’s sentence concludes case related to June 2017 offence

Vernon perfect getaway for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, mayor says

Family-oriented community also home to Royal interests; film and helicopter industries

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

B.C. town spends $14.14 per resident for snow removal in one month

Costs of snow removal to the Town of Princeton skyrocketed in December.… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Photo reminds Salmon Arm resident of connection to former drama teacher Justin Trudeau

Prime minister remembered as being as a funny, larger-than-life person

Province says it is monitoring AIM’s road maintenance

The provincial transportation ministry is working closely with new road contractor AIM,… Continue reading

Most Read