Fleet of Greyhound Buses Hitting the Auction Block

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Greyhound's fleet going under the auctioneer's hammer in January
Greyhound's fleet going under the auctioneer's hammer in January

Thunder Bay – Business – A part of Canada’s transportation history is going under the auction block. Thirty-eight former Greyhound buses are going to be auctioned off in early January.

The move comes as perhaps the final chapter in the Greyhound saga in Canada that once saw a national bus line where passengers could travel from coast to coast in Canada.

Corporate Assets Inc. will be auctioning off the buses in its first sale of 2022. The company calls this “an exciting offering of 38 well maintained motor coaches formerly operated and owned by Greyhound Canada Transportation ULC. These buses have been exceptionally maintained by the corporation and are being offered by auction for the first time in Canada. If interested in setting up an inspection to view the buses under power, please call 416-962-9600. Don’t miss out on this incredibly unique opportunity!”

FEATURING: (38) MOTOR COACH INDUSTRIES (2007) D4505 motor coaches with seating capacity for 55 passengers, ALLISON B500 6 speed, or ZF 12AS2301BO 12 speed transmissions, some with CATERPILLAR C13 12.5L diesel engines, air suspension with automatic leveling systems, some with wheelchair lift capabilities, some with leather seats, some with built-in multimedia screens, on-board restrooms & MORE!

The loss of Greyhound has meant inter-community bus service in Canada is not cohesive any longer in Canada. There are bus lines across Canada seeking to offer service, but at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ridership is way down, and bus companies are struggling to survive.

A group of inter community bus companies says that there is a solution, but it is going to take help from the federal and provincial governments. Those companies remain in a holding pattern and are still seeking help.

The Coast to Coast Bus Coalition, a group of privately owned companies have come together during the pandemic with a proposal to co-ordinate their routes and ticketing to bring back a national bus service.

The Wilson’s Group, Pacific Western Group of Companies, Kasper Transportation, and Coach Atlantic Maritime Bus have formed Coast to Coast Bus Coalition, with a vision of working toward the creation of a new national inter-community bus transportation network with the bus transportation industry working in coalition with each other.

Transport Action Canada reported, “Leaders in the motorcoach industry have been working together since the beginning for the year to develop a proposal to reconnect services across Canada through a Coast-to-Coast Bus Coalition and the re-assumption of federal regulatory responsibility for protecting a national network of essential routes. This would include the restoration of interline reservations and package services across Canada, which have largely been lost since Greyhound pulled out of western Canada in 2018. The proposal was submitted to the federal government at the end of February.”

In January 2021, NetNewsLedger reported on this issue.

We spoke to Elizabeth May of the Green Party.

 

“The situation right now for the commercial bus lines, the coach bus sector, such as Wilson’s Transportation here on Vancouver Island or Maritime Bus in the maritime communities, is that this entire part of our transportation infrastructure is imminently at risk of going under. This is an integral part of our tourism sector, and it is integral in reducing greenhouse gases and serving remote first nations”.

May asked, “We have to have one of two things, either money has to be provided to the sector or the big banks have to back off. What can be done?”

Then Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra responded to May stating, “The inner-city passenger bus service industry has been hit very hard by the pandemic. Our government has provided a lot of financial support for businesses that have been impacted by COVID. The member knows that the inner-city bus service is regulated by the province. I also acknowledge that it is important to our cities and provinces, therefore, we will continue to monitor the situation. I am happy to work with the member on ideas we can work together on”.

The bus industry is looking for a more level playing field, where like aviation and rail, there is more direct federal oversight – pulling the industry back to a more national focus.

The pandemic is threatening the industry to the breaking point in many cases.

In British Columbia, Wilson’s Bus has seen four of the company’s buses valued at $600k each repossessed. Low passenger numbers have driven the company close to the brink.

Wilson’s Bus owner John Wilson says it is at “a crisis point”.

Post Pandemic Canada will Need the Bus Industry

As many politicians have said, there is light at the end of the tunnel as the COVID-19 vaccine is starting to be distributed. Moving forward toward a more normal world, across the country the charter bus industry is a vital link for tourism in Canada.

Right now it is hard to see if there will be a charter bus industry standing after the pandemic.

Marc Laplante, the Chairman of Ontario’s Motor Coach Association has been in communication with the Ontario Government on this issue as early as January 2021.

Ontario is moving to re-regulate the motor coach industry

LaPlante told Minister Caroline Mulroney, “The passing of Bill 213, Section 16 will be a significant barrier to the recovery of the Ontario motorcoach sector. The COVID-19 pandemic has nearly decimated the motor coach industry. In a recent survey of our members, 92% of motor coach operators experienced a drop in revenue between 75% – 100% between March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 and 84% of have had coaches sitting idle for at least 5 months.

“We are also concerned that this will have significant impacts on Ontario jobs, jobs that will go to other jurisdictions outside of Ontario. In the same recent survey of members, small businesses employing between 1 – 20 full time employees in March of 2020 experienced an 81% decrease in full time employees. Fifty percent of motor coach operators that employed part time employees back in March, now have zero part time staff.”

We are now nine months later, and there remains a lot of work to be done.