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article image'Last minute' deal in Manitoba means Greyhound will keep running

By Stephanie Dearing     Oct 29, 2009 in Business
Just days before a deadline was reached, the Manitoba government worked out an unspecified funding arrangement with Greyhound Canada to keep intercity bus service running in the province.
Service was scheduled to stop on October 2 in Manitoba, but Ron Lemieux, Manitoba's Transportation Minister, had promised the company that the province would be discussing the issue on October 22 with their federal counterparts. Greyhound agreed to hold off on cutting back on staff and services until after that meeting. Greyhound Canada had filed notice of cessation of services months ago in Manitoba and northern Ontario, but had also asked the government of Canada for financial assistance to keep the service in place. The federal Transportation Minister, John Baird said Greyhound Canada was a bully, engaged in a "shake down" and refused assistance. In the deal reached in Manitoba, the province will provide financial support to Greyhound to keep the routes will low ridership going. Greyhound said it loses $4 million a year in Manitoba. The deal is yet to be cemented, and Lemieux said "Manitobans cannot and won't be providing that full amount. Right now we haven't nailed down a specific figure because we have to continue the conversation with Greyhound."
At the October 22 meeting, the federal and provincial governments agreed to strike up a national working group. Greyhound is seeking $15 million a year to subsidize the bus service in Manitoba and northern Ontario. Greyhound also wants to see the federal rules eased, which presently force the company to provide service for unprofitable routes. The push to living in cities and the global financial crisis have weakened Greyhound's capability, the company said. Greyhound said that total losses in Manitoba and Ontario amount to $30 million a year.
The Manitoba deal will likely mean less bus routes will be available. Manitoba said that it could give Greyhound $2 million a year, but the federal government would have to kick in the other $2 million Greyhound said it needs. Manitoba also wants Greyhound to make its books available for an analysis of where losses are incurred by the company in the province.
Many remote communities in Manitoba and Ontario rely on Greyhound for transportation and shipping. Service to northern Ontario is scheduled to end on December 2. So far, Ottawa has said it will not provide any funds to keep the service going.
The national working group is not expected to have recommendations until September 2010.
More about Greyhound, John baird, Bully, Transportation, Manitoba
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