An Edmonton company is hoping to offer renewed passenger bus service to Hay River.Alberta Connection owner Bob Romano said he hopes to capitalize on the hole that Greyhound left when it ceased offering an Edmonton-to-Hay River ride in October of last year.
“Really, it came about when Greyhound started cancelling services. We started looking at it and saying, ‘What runs should a guy be looking at?’ I really just thought people in these communities deserve to have transportation,” Romano said.
And he’s not just proposing a bare-bones bus ride, either. It would have around 25 seats with extra space for cargo, with an idea to make it a more comfortable travelling experience than flying or driving.
“It will be a high-end luxury bus, basically special made for that situation. My hope is that it will have a fridge, microwave, network printer, satellite TV, hardwood flooring, reclining seats, coffeemaker and outlets in every seat,” Romano said.
The bus would run from Edmonton to Hay River on Mondays and Thursdays, with the return trips on Tuesdays and Fridays. Right now, the plan is to charge $200 for a one-way ticket, but to do it Romano said he needs to guarantee six tickets on each trip.
Romano said he has pitched the idea to Hay River town council and the GNWT, hoping they can provide the assurances he needs.
“To order a bus that’s going to be $200,000 or so, I need to be sure there would be commitments from the town and territorial government,” he said. “Really what I’m asking for is a bit of guarantee of six bums in the seats on those days, and approach it as a bit of a profit share with them. If I can get that, I can afford to offer it long-term.”
But Mayor Ken Latour said the likelihood of that guarantee is minimal at best.
“It would be great if we could resume bus service to Hay River. I know that’s affected a lot of people,” he said. “This is something we would like for the town. But having said that, the Town of Hay River isn’t in a position to guarantee seats. I don’t know how the town as a community could guarantee that number of seats. The company needs to do its work and find out if that market is there. And if it is, and it can be sustained, that’s the way it has to be. We’re not in a position to subsidize a business like this, as important as the service is.”
While Greyhound ended passenger service to the NWT last year, it continued to offer a freight service.
— Jesse Winter