An update on Greyhound airport service

In a recent post we suggested that Greyhound might not have the license to operate service between Waterloo Region and the Toronto Pearson airport. Greyhound has been in touch to tell us that we’re mistaken. Quoting the letter from David Butler (Regional Vice President, Eastern Canada):

Over the years Greyhound has acquired many licences through acquisitions of companies like Voyageur, Gray Coach and PMCL to supplement our own P.V. licenses. I wish to confirm that Greyhound does indeed hold all the required operating authorities to provide this service under the P.V. licences issued to it by the Ontario Highway Transport Board (“OHTB”). This was verified before the service commenced, validated with senior staff at the OHTB and, prior to their coming into force, the schedules for these services were duly filed with the OHTB as is required by regulation. Greyhound has long supported, and faithfully followed the OHTB regulations in regards to our services in Ontario.

When we had contacted the OHTB, they were unable to provide a listing of services licensed to operate between Waterloo Region and Toronto Pearson airport. They were able to provide the license when given a company name, so we had requested those for Airways Transit and Greyhound. We had not anticipated that subsidiary companies would have separate licenses. We have not yet been able to track down the specific license that applies in this case, but we do not have reason to doubt Greyhound’s word here.

Mr. Butler also writes:

We are very excited about the initial response to this new service. We hope to increase frequency to match demand.

We, too, are enthusiastic about useful new transit service from Waterloo Region and increased frequency!

We’re happy to have been mistaken about the status of Greyhound’s airport service. The main question at this point is what exactly the province is doing in its review of intercity bus regulation. There have not been any public updates in many months. As it stands, it is hard to find information about intercity bus service in Ontario and, consequently, hard for new entrants to improve such service.

3 thoughts on “An update on Greyhound airport service”

  1. I find it fascinating that Greyhound 1) took the initiative to respond, without 2) providing the specifics of their licence. This worked extremely well to maintain the opacity of the OHTC, since you essentially had no choice but to speculate that Greyhound holds the licence through an unidentified subsidiary acquisition.

    You have written about this before, asking the OHTC what should be an obvious and easy question:

    “Which companies hold the licence for which city pairs, and what amount of service do they provide?”

    The response you received from that question was nonsense. How does the head of the OHTC respond “there are few or no cases of multiple operators on any given route”? I regularly choose between Greyhound and Megabus/Coach Canada when traveling from Niagara to Toronto. Apparently, Airways and Greyhound both have licences to travel from KW to Pearson.

    Is this really how we do things in Ontario? In 2017?

  2. The inter-city and inter-provincial bus system is an historical mess but carefully regulated and is economically efficient on many routes due to subsidies. Tracing the ownership of routes purchased or cannibalized as coach lines disappeared/mergered is difficult for anyone looking at it from the outside.

    The bus industry is very much like the old railway system where even small sections of routes are likely still owned by private bus operators who comply only with their tariff regulation.

    For example, the 50 year old Canada Coach Line (which was owned I believe by the HSR way back – I could be wrong) was by example run between Hamilton and Kitchener and CCL still owns that route tariff with then requirements to stop at every hamlet along the old Highway 8 and into Dundas and Hamilton. Obviously changes hve been made as you now flag down buses on son=me routes. You can still look up Canada Coach route but it redirects you to their low cost carrier express service. – MegaBus

    “The route you have selected is available from, our low cost, daily, express bus service.”

    Remember Grey Coach was (or still is?) owned and operated by the TTC. The inter-city and inter-provincial bus lobby is a big lobby in Ottawa and here in Ontario. The truth is governments aren’t keen on re-regulating an industry that works for the carriers and mostly for the customers.

  3. @William Hoch

    You said “Remember Grey Coach was (or still is?) owned and operated by the TTC. ”

    Was. According to this source, the TTC sold Gray Coach in 1994.

    You said “The inter-city…bus system…is economically efficient on many routes due to subsidies.”

    Can you say more about these subsidies?

    The TransitToronto article that I referenced above spoke about the Manitoba government subsidizing Greyhound and that a working group was being proposed in 2010. I have not followed this issue forward, but have difficulty believing that this is lucrative. If it’s true, I would far rather those subsidy dollars be directed towards public entities that are more transparent and quality-conscious.

    You said “The truth is governments aren’t keen on re-regulating an industry that works…mostly for the customers.”

    As a customer (although I typically refer to myself a transit rider; I’ve rarely heard of people traveling in cars referred to as customers…of roads), I have to disagree that our system is ‘mostly’ functional. I suppose it’s true that ‘most people who board a bus arrive at their destination,’ but that’s a very low and narrow bar of travel utility.

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