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Most Canadians want government to step up when Greyhound leaves, poll suggests

As Greyhound prepares to end service across Western Canada, a national survey suggests most Canadians are willing to support a government-funded rural bus service.

56% agree rural bus service is vital and would support a service funded by Ottawa or the provinces

Greyhound announced in early July that it would be cutting all bus services across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and all but one route in British Columbia. (David Donnelly/CBC)

As Greyhound prepares to end service across Western Canada, a national survey suggests most Canadians are willing to support a government-funded rural bus service.

A slim majority of Canadians, 56 per cent, agreed the service is vital and would support a federally-funded or provincially-funded service, an Angus Reid poll released Friday suggests.

However, 44 per cent said they believe private business will eventually fill the void if demand exists and governments should stay out of it. 

When asked outright if they would support a rural bus service funded by the federal government, whether directly or through subsidies to Greyhound or other bus operators, 60 per cent said yes, while only 26 per cent said no.

Even more respondents supported a service funded by the provinces, 64 per cent, with 23 per cent against.   

Even in Alberta where support for government intervention was lowest among all provinces, 53 per cent supported a provincially-funded service while 49 per cent favored federal funding.

Though 54 per cent of Canadian adults say they have taken a Greyhound bus in their lives, only five per cent of respondents said they would be personally affected by absence of the service.

Greyhound announced in early July that it would be cutting all bus services across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and all but one route in British Columbia.

The company blamed a variety of reasons for the cuts, including a 41-per-cent decline in ridership since 2010, competition from subsidized passenger transportation services, growth of low-cost airlines, regulatory constraints and an increase in car ownership.

The company estimated that two million customers will be affected when the changes take effect at the end of October.

Western premiers have called on the federal government to step in and delay Greyhound's service reductions.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted the survey online from July 18 to 23 in a random sample of 1,500 Canadian adult members of the Angus Reid Forum.

For comparison purposes only, a random sample of this size would have a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The study was commissioned and paid for by Angus Reid.

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