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Greyhound To Reduce Ontario Service In New Year

Travellers who take the Greyhound bus in Ontario will face service reductions in the new year, the company said Wednesday.

Greyhound Canada said it will scale back some of its passenger bus services in the province in response to financial losses.

The announcement comes the same day as a company-set deadline to reach a funding deal with the provincial government.

“Greyhound Canada has indicated for months that it could no longer sustain current financial losses without making adjustments to our existing operations,” senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick said in a statement.

“The route frequency reductions we are announcing today are designed to relieve some of that financial pressure.”

Service along the TransCanada Highway would be preserved, for now, but there would be frequency reductions, the company said.

The changes, which go into effect as of Jan. 17, are designed to save money.

Calls to the provincial government for comment were not immediately returned.

In October, Greyhound backed off its threat to pull its buses out of Manitoba after the province promised to provide subsidies.

The company had issued an ultimatum in September to the federal and provincial governments, saying it would shut down bus routes in Manitoba and northern Ontario if it didn’t receive $15 million a year in subsidies nationally – half of what it was losing on the non-profitable routes.

It also wants federal regulations that require it to operate money-losing routes to be loosened.

The company said even with the service reductions announced Wednesday it’s still facing losses in Ontario.

Seven routes will be reduced or cut.

Among them, the routes between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie will be cut from three trips to two trips daily each way. The run from the Sault to Thunder Bay will be reduced from two trips to one trip daily each way.

One trip daily each way is also being shaved from the Toronto to Niagara Falls route and the Kitchener to London run.

Some Sunday and weekday services are being eliminated on some routes.

Greyhound, the only transit option in many remote areas, has said rural depopulation and a faltering economy have hurt its bottom line. It estimates its losses some $30 million a year on interprovincial routes.

The long-term future of Greyhound’s cross-country operations hangs on the outcome of the federal-provincial-territorial working group that is due to recommend regulatory and policy changes in September 2010, said Kendrick.

The company has also said it’s reviewing its operations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.

The Manitoba government has said the subsidy would be less than the $4 million a year that Greyhound has said it was losing in Manitoba.