REGINA, SASK: August 20, 2018 – Leonard Siemens, left, and Firat Uray, president and owner of Rider Express Transportation, stand before Uray's business on 11th Avenue before talking to the media about the bus line that former Greyhound routes. BRANDON HARDER / Regina Leader-Post
A private bus company based on Saskatchewan announced on Monday that it will offer a bus service on the transport routes that Greyhound Canada wants to stop later this year.
Rider Express, who currently serves Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Swift Current, says it plans to start a route from Calgary to Winnipeg and an Edmonton to Winnipeg, including Saskatchewan stops in mid-September. The Calgary to Winnipeg runs through Regina and the route from Edmonton to Winnipeg passes through Saskatoon.
Owner Firat Uray said that the company wants to give people options to travel. If everything goes well, it will look to go beyond these routes to British Columbia and possibly Ontario.
"We see it differently than Greyhound has seen," said Uray, estimating that about 10 million people live in Western Canada. According to the latest census, the combined populations of the four western provinces are more than 11 million, using statistics from Statistics Canada.
"So we think there is a chance that we can have success," Uray said.
At the launch, a trip to the west and an east is made every day for six or seven days a week.
The company already has a few buses in line for its new routes and has bought a full-sized bus, Uray said in a telephone interview.
"We are expanding our fleet based on the number of passengers and on demand."
Earlier this summer, Greyhound Canada announced that the cargo and transportation service in Western Canada ended on October 31, with the exception of the Vancouver to Seattle route. The bus company said it has registered a 41 percent decline in ridership since 2010 and that it could not provide a market environment that would not continue to fall.
The closure has raised concerns about safety risks that vulnerable people may face in the absence of accessible transport, in particular indigenous women and girls living in remote areas.
Greyhound's announcement follows the closure by the provincial government of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company last. In the absence of a provincial bus service, some private companies have shown interest in providing transport services, but few are operational.
The low number of passengers on the Prince Albert to Saskatoon route led Rider Express to terminate the service on that route, but it was restored within a few weeks. Ridership has since increased.
The company recently launched a Swift Current line in Saskatoon, which Uray said is "going well".
Another company, DiCal Transport, has scheduled passenger runs between Regina, Melville, Balcarres and Fort Qu & Appelle.
Former Prince Albert Grand Council Chief Ron Michel announced the launch of a medical transportation service aimed at indigenous patients earlier this year.