The recent announcement of the closure of Greyhound buses has shocked many people, including Don Melvin.
Melvin, who has cerebral palsy, has been a regular user of Greyhound most of his life and was surprised by the news of the closure.
“Greyhound has always been good to me, helping me on the bus and off the bus and I really feel that we need Greyhound no matter what we do at this point. It’s an absolute must,” he said.
Having taken the bus for years, Melvin said its definitely got harder, as he’s had to get up at 3 a.m. to board the Red Deer bus to Lethbridge, with the bus arriving in Lethbridge at 10 a.m., and that was a regular trip for him to see his family and friends.
“Not only me but hundreds of people are going to be affected,” he said, adding that he would like to fight this in Ottawa.
He currently uses the bus to travel to the cerebral palsy clinic in Calgary.
According to Peter Hamel, regional vice president for Greyhound Western Canada, the shut down will affect approximately 155 jobs in the Alberta region.
“And it’s going to be an impact of approximately 380,000 passengers that use the service in Alberta,” said Hamel.
Hamel added that the big concern for people right now is what their next steps are without the service, but that there are other options for people, with the use of other carriers.
“You have the airlines that fly in and out of Red Deer. You also have any of the ride sharing services that are available,” said Hamel.
He said the closure was strictly a situation of the declining ridership.
“We’ve made note that since 2010 we’ve seen an overall decline in ridership of approximately 41 per cent in all regions. Alberta is consistent with that and had a decline of 40 per cent since 2010.”
Hamel said they’ve also been at an operating deficit and losing money in all four regions since 2004.
He added that some of the other factors include the decline in population in rural communities, along with urbanization and increased competition with other carriers on the corridor.
For Agent Ken Sharrun, who operates out of the Greyhound station in Red Deer, it’s time that he also look for other work.
“I think we’re all surprised. I’ve seen the downturn and I’ve seen what’s been happening and you’d never thought it was coming to this,” said Sharrun.
Having been with Greyhound for 30 years, Sharrun currently gets paid a commission to manage the Red Deer facility, with his staff coming out of his budget along with the courier vans.
In Red Deer alone, there will be 10 people, including himself, without jobs come October.
“I think we’re all getting our resumes ready. If I landed something where I could assist the staff I would do so, because I believe I’ve got pretty good staff.”