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

Vernon bylaw officer best in B.C.

Al Harrison named Bylaw Officer of the Year at annual association conference

Vernon council waits on fence as report prepared

Council to get information on cost of erecting fence for off-leash dog area at Marshall Field

Vernon Transit enjoys stellar year

Ridership up over tier average, says BC Transit representative

Biker airlifted from Vernon mountain resort

22-year-old injured at SilverStar Mountain Resort

Inaugural KidSport Greater Vernon golf tourney raises $18,000

Event raises single largest fundraising amount for Greater Vernon KidSport

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

Man accused of assault at South Okanagan beach gets bail

Thomas Brayden Kruger-Allen was granted bail at the Penticton provincial courthouse on Monday

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Most Read