Liberals offer bridge funding to fill Greyhound service gaps
Transport minister says 2-year cost sharing with provinces will ensure safe travel
The federal government is offering two-year transitional funding to fill service gaps for cancelled Greyhound bus routes in Canada.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced the cost-sharing arrangement with the provinces and territories during a news conference on Parliament Hill today, but did not provide a figure on how much the government will put up.
Asked by reporters for the exact cost, he would only say the government knows how much it will make available and the amount will be announced "very shortly."
Garneau said private "market forces" have stepped in and will serve 87 per cent of the routes Greyhound announced it would be cancelling. For the remaining 13 per cent, the federal government will provide funding to provide other transportation options.
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"Taking an active role in supplying provinces and territories is the most effective way to achieve both short-term and long-term solutions," Garneau said. "Access to safe transportation options is very important for the quality of life of many Canadians, including remote, rural and Indigenous communities."
The government is also engaging Indigenous communities to provide funding for Indigenous-owned transportation companies, through existing programs such as the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program for potential opportunities for business solutions to their own affected communities.
A working group will also be struck to collaborate on long-term solutions to mobility issues right across the country.
Greyhound Canada announced July 9 it was discontinuing all remaining intercity bus services west of Sudbury, Ont., by Oct. 31. That represents a network of more than 11,000 kilometres and up to two million passenger trips per year.
The last Greyhound bus pulls into a station in Western Canada at midnight tonight, the victim of high costs and declining ridership, according to the U.S. parent company.
John Di Nino, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said seniors, students, workers and patients are losing a "lifeline." He said Garneau's "11th-hour" announcement leaves thousands of people stranded.
'Travesty' for First Nations
"The government reneged on its promise to find funding and solutions to deal with this crisis," he said in a statement. "This is a travesty for rural and First Nations communities who depend on this service, and we hold the government responsible."
Saskatchewan NDP MP Shari Benson asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau why the government made a last-minute funding announcement without providing details or timelines.
Trudeau said while the private sector has stepped up to fill most routes, some gaps remain.
"That's why we are prepared to assist in the affected provinces and Indigenous communities in determining the best paths forward, and are open to considering avenues toward finding effective solutions for Canadians," he said.