Minister says beheading on Greyhound bus was 'tipping point' for STC ridership
Joe Hargrave says ridership significantly dropped after July 31, 2008 incident
The minister responsible for the now defunct Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) cited the beheading of a passenger aboard a Greyhound bus in Manitoba 10 years ago as the point where bus ridership began to slip in the province.
Joe Hargrave said his government — which axed the STC last year — had seen an industry-wide decrease in bus ridership. He attributed the drop to a few factors, including cheaper airline travel and people using cars more often.
Figures provided by the government show a decline in ridership was already underway from at least the 1990s.
Hargrave said 2008 was the "tipping point" for ridership. That's when Will Baker, formerly known as Vince Li, stabbed and beheaded Tim McLean aboard a Greyhound bus in Manitoba.
"Ridership really started to drop like a rock after that," Hargrave said.
Baker was found not criminally responsible in 2009 after it was found he had been suffering from untreated schizophrenia.
He served seven years in Manitoba's Selkirk Mental Health Centre and was granted an absolute discharge in 2017.
STC tried to enact new security measures
In a statement provided to CBC, a government spokesperson cited a financial report from 2009 that references an 8.5 per cent dip in ridership following the July 2008 incident.
"The industry, including STC, responded with new security measures, but experienced reductions ridership."
The spokesperson also pointed to a 2009 annual report from STC. In it, STC's former president says 2009 ridership revenues fell below budget for that year and were less than 2008 levels.
However, the government's numbers show an uptick in ridership in the years that followed. In 2010, there were 268,335 riders which increased to more than 280,000 in 2011. It began to drop off after that with only 185,678 boarding STC buses in 2016-17.
Greyhound says no 'single incident' caused ridership slip
This week, Greyhound Canada announced it would cancel all passenger and freight bus routes in Western Canada save one in B.C that runs from Vancouver to Seattle.
"The decline in ridership that led to the difficult decision that Greyhound Canada took this week regarding its routes in Western Canada was not due to any single incident," Stuart Kendrick, senior-vice president of Greyhound Canada, said in a statement provided to CBC.
The statement pointed to what the company characterizes as a "challenging transportation environment" in rural areas, including an increase in competition and vehicular travel.