Canada Ontario Transit

Greyhound Canada’s inevitable decline leaves a few gaps to fill

Though increasingly irrelevant to Canadians, Greyhound’s final departure leaves new gaps in Eastern Ontario. Megabus’ new Toronto-Ottawa route doesn’t meet those needs

Barry’s Bay, on Greyhound’s Peterborough-Pembroke route, is one of many smaller towns and villages that permanently lost all intercity bus connections since the COVID-19 pandemic

On Thursday, May 13, Greyhound Canada announced that it was permanently ceasing operations. This should not have come as a shock to anyone following the intercity transport industry: for over three decades, intercity bus carriers in this country were privatized (Gray Coach and Canada Coach Lines in Ontario, shut down (Saskatchewan Transportation Corporation), or strangled by continued cutbacks and poor customer service (Greyhound). In 2018, Greyhound Canada ended all its remaining services between Vancouver and Sudbury. The loss of commuter and student traffic — Greyhound’s bread-and-butter in Ontario and Quebec — due to the pandemic led to a temporary, then permanent shutdown.

The next day, on Friday, May 14, Megabus — operated by Coach Canada, a subsidiary of UK-based Stagecoach — announced that it would begin service on the Toronto-Ottawa and Toronto-Kingston routes abandoned by Greyhound. Two buses a day will soon operate between Toronto, Scarborough Town Centre, Kingston, and Ottawa, daily except Tuesdays and Wednesdays, terminating at St-Laurent Shopping Centre, a stop on Ottawa’s new LRT. Though this provides a new option for travelers between the big three cities (VIA Rail continues to serve this route), it does not fill the gaps left by years of decline by private intercity bus operators.

(I updated my map of Ontario’s intermunicipal carriers to include Megabus’ new route).

Before Greyhound’s website disappeared, I downloaded the PDF schedules for Ontario and Quebec. In 2019, Greyhound operated three routes between Toronto and Ottawa: an express bus, with stops only in Scarborough, Belleville, Peterborough, Madoc, and/or Kanata, a local bus, making stops in cities and towns along Highway 7 between Peterborough and Carleton Place, and a Kingston-Ottawa bus via Smiths Falls. You can view and download the schedules below:

Peterborough loses two buses a day to and from Ottawa and express bus service to Downtown Toronto (which made the trip in less than two hours off-peak.) Though Peterborough is still connected to Toronto via GO Transit bus Route 88, it can take nearly three hours to go between Union Station and Downtown Peterborough, including a train connection at Oshawa, and many local stops in Clarington and along Highway 115. Other towns, such as Norwood, Marmora, Madoc, Perth, and Carleton Place, lose all bus services, except for a commuter-oriented weekday run between Ottawa and Carleton Place.

Greyhound has chosen to become irrelevant to most Canadians long before the final shutdown announcement. Northern Ontario, at least, still has Ontario Northland (which has expanded its reach), and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area has GO Transit (though gaps continue to exist in that network). If your rural community is lucky, your local or regional municipality launched a new, subsidized bus or microtransit service. There is also VIA Rail, which serves most larger communities that lost Greyhound services in 2020-2021 (Windsor, Chatham, Belleville, Ottawa, etc.), though it is typically more expensive.

Despite these continued and emerging services, there remains a need for government support of those crucial links left behind by Megabus, VIA, and GO Transit.

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