A Saskatchewan-based private bus company wants to expand its services across the Prairies to include stops in Edmonton and Calgary.
The move by Rider Express is just the latest by private industry to try and fill the void that will be left by Greyhound when it ceases services as of Oct. 31.
Two weeks ago another private company, Northern Express Bus Line, announced it would expand its offerings in northern Alberta between Grande Prairie and Edmonton.
The company, which runs a fleet of 55-passenger motor coaches, has offered a service for the past 10 years between High Level to Grande Prairie and High Level to Edmonton and officials said the expansion was a natural evolution considering Greyhound’s departure from the market.
Rider Express, which currently serves Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Swift Current, plans to launch a Calgary to Winnipeg and an Edmonton to Winnipeg route that will include Saskatchewan stops in mid-September.
The Calgary to Winnipeg route will run through Regina while the Edmonton to Winnipeg route will pass through Saskatoon.
Six 55-seat buses
Owner Firat Uray, who launched the Rider Express service 14 months ago following the Saskatchewan Party’s heavily criticized decision to shutter its provincial bus service, said he planned to start with one westbound and one eastbound trip each day, six or seven days a week.
“This is another opportunity for us,” Uray said in an interview Wednesday.
With more than 20 years’ experience in running a bus service in his home country of Turkey, Uray said his company has six 55-seat buses and will expand as demand grows.
Uray said that while many might see it as a “big gamble” he is confident that there is still enough of a commuter market to make the move viable.
There are also plans for a twice-daily route between Calgary and Vancouver.
Red Arrow expands
On Tuesday, Red Arrow launched a weekday service between Camrose and Edmonton that will include three daily return trips from three locations in Camrose and four stops in Edmonton.
According to Red Arrow, the service and route was chosen specifically “to help people in these communities have a lifeline to specialist medical appointments, educational opportunities, recreation, and as a connection to the rest of the province by linking into the Red Arrow network.”
With the exception of a Vancouver to Seattle route, Greyhound announced earlier this year it would end both freight and transportation service in Western Canada at the end of October citing diminishing ridership.
— With files Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Daily Herald Tribune