Canada provinces undecided how to save bus service

Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:01pm EDT
 
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada's western provinces want to preserve intercity bus service, but there is no deal yet to aid carrier Greyhound Canada, Manitoba's transport minister said on Thursday.

Greyhound announced in early September that it would pull service of Manitoba and northern Ontario this fall, and might end bus service across western Canada unless it received government assistance.

Provincial and federal officials agreed at a meeting in Vancouver to develop a plan to preserve intercity bus service, but had no specifics and "there was no consensus yet on any subsidies for Greyhound," Ron Lemieux said.

Canada's largest intercity bus line, which is a unit of Britain's FirstGroup, blames federal and provincial government regulations for the planned cuts, saying it is forced to operate routes in rural areas at a loss.

Greyhound is the only public transportation link among hundreds of rural and communities in western Canada, where publicly-owned VIA Rail's passenger trains offers only very limited service that is aimed at visiting tourists.

Lemieux said he will be meeting with Greyhound officials soon. The Dallas-headquartered company had said it would delay a final decision on its shutdown until after the ministers' meetings in Vancouver.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing Bernard Orr)