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Expanding GO service upsets private bus companies

The Toronto Star reports today that Coach Canada, Greyhound Canada and other private bus companies are upset because GO Transit expanded its bus service into the Niagara Peninsula and Peterborough County last week

Coach Canada and Greyhound say that expanding GO service will cost them business and potentially force them to cut jobs and routes.

The Star’s transportation reporter, Tess Kalinowski, writes that officials at both bus companies say they have approached GO about partnerships but, beyond sharing some maintenance facilities, the public agency isn’t interested.

According to GO, the growing population of the Golden Horseshoe means there is more demand for Toronto-area destinations that the private coach operators don’t serve.

Coach Canada operates about 15 buses every day in both directions between St. Catharines and Toronto. The company claims that it can’t compete with the lower subsidized fares that GO offers. It says that, if it loses 10 per cent of its business in the Niagara Region, it will have to lay off about 100 of its 1,000 employees.

Greyhound also operates between Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Toronto, including some Commuter Link express services. Some Greyhound buses stop to pick up and drop off passengers at Applewood Mall, near Dixie Road and the Queen Elizabeth Way in Mississauga and Burlington Transit’s Downtown Transit Terminal.

GO operates 12 buses daily from Niagara Falls to the Burlington GO station, stopping at Fairview Mall in St. Catharines and carpool lots in Grimsby and east-end Hamilton. A one-way adult fare from Niagara Falls to Toronto is $15.60, compared with $25.15 on Coach Canada and $20 on Greyhound.

GO got $2.5 million in provincial and federal infrastructure funds to build four stations in Niagara. The transit agency anticipates the service will add $3.5 million in annual operating costs, of which $2 million will be covered by fares. GO Transit recovers 82 per cent of its operations from the fare box on average.

GO officials expect the new routes to attract about 500 daily riders from Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Grimsby and Hamilton and about 125 from Peterborough.

Coach Canada and Greyhound primarily operate express services between Peterborough, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and downtown Toronto, while GO links those places to other areas in the Greater Toronto Area.

When GO launched train service to Barrie, Greyhound Canada claims to have lost 30 per cent of its business in that market.

Just a week ago, Greyhound announced that it could no longer justify running some of its remote Ontario and Manitoba routes. If Greyhound continues with its plans, people in communities in those areas will have no bus service to travel to other parts of Canada.

Meanwhile, Coach Canada plans to cancel its bus services between Guelph and Hamilton completely by October 21.

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