Sudbury·Audio

Ontario should subsidize bus companies in the north: Greyhound

The closing of Ontario Northland stations in Englehart and Matheson have many wondering about the future of bus travel in the region.

Greyhound Bus Lines, which covers areas not served by Ontario Northland, also struggling financially

What kind of bus service can Northern Ontario expect in the future? Ontario Northland recently announced cuts to bus service and Greyhound is struggling with fewer riders. The CBC's Erik White joined us to talk about bus service in Northern Ontario. 6:57
The closing of Ontario Northland stations in Englehart and Matheson have many wondering about the future of bus travel in the region.

And it's not just the publicly-funded service that's in trouble.

First, the passenger train stopped running to Englehart. Soon, the town won't have a bus station.

Lisa Buck said it feels like her town is gradually becoming more isolated.

"I'd be willing to pay a little more on my taxes to keep it going, because we're losing a lot in the north."

Ontario Northland reported it loses between $2-3 million every year on its bus business.

Interim CEO Corina Moore said it's her job to balance the books.

"Our goal over the next three years for transformation is to ensure a break-even business so we can be here for the next 100 years."

Greyhound Bus Lines, which largely covers areas not served by Ontario Northland, is also struggling financially.

Senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick said ridership continues to shrink, especially on its runs west from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie and beyond.

"There's a lot of miles, a lot of cost, and with a lot of less people, it's difficult to be profitable."

But he hopes the province will consider subsidizing private bus carriers who serve small northern towns.

Kendrick said his company wants to be at the table when the future of Northland and transportation in the region are discussed.

"There is a social mandate from a subsidized service to run that service whether it's profitable or not. And I think where the discussions need to lead to is the private sector's never been involved in any discussion of subsidy."

Kendrick said Greyhound may have to consider cuts to its bus service in northern Ontario if the financial picture doesn't change.

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