Edmonton-area small business owners are getting ready to fill some gaps if Greyhound goes ahead with plans to slash its bus routes later this year.
The big bus company said last week that it is cutting bus routes across northern and central Alberta in the wake of the province's move to deregulate passenger service.
A dozen routes in central and northern Alberta will be stopped on Oct. 24, including routes from Edmonton to Drayton Valley, Slave Lake, Peace River and Cold Lake.
But when bus service is deregulated, some of the area businesses plan to offer alternative routes to residents who depend on the services to get to their appointments in and around Edmonton.
This includes Cold Lake school-bus operator Tammy Perepelitza who said she might step in with an alternative service for those left stranded by the cuts. But Perepelitza said the ultimate decision would come down to the availability of a pool of qualified drivers for the routes.
"We're going to have to look into what kind of a profit-margin there is on this. What kind of people are there that want to do this for a living? Because getting drivers has been an issue with the school-bus industry for years," she said.
Another bus company in Peace River plans to take over that community's link to Edmonton, while Calgary-based Red Arrow plans to meet with charter bus companies across the province to coordinate timetables and ticketing.
It is still too early to determine what the new prices and schedules will look like, however.
But for commuters like Andrew Barabash, they are willing to pay a little more as long as some service is still available.
"It'd be an inconvenience, but it'd be better than nothing," he said.
Greyhound, which claims it loses some $7.5 million a year on the unprofitable outlying destinations, has long contended that running the big buses with very few passengers is not economically viable.
Last year, Greyhound trimmed routes in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.