— Core Questions —

Grey Area

What’s the future of the core’s main intercity transport hub?

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Source: Wikipedia Commons

(Editor’s Note: In March 2016, Greyhound officially announced that it would move alongside Via Rail’s northwest station.)

After two failed attempts at securing a new home, Greyhound is attempting to lease space from Via Rail’s northwest location, an area without transit service. As the city has increased its focus on accessible transit, the relocation of central Edmonton’s intercity transport hub has some thinking that it’s a move in the opposite direction.

“I’m worried about people who would be stranded,” says Coun. Bev Esslinger. Greyhound customer surveys show that 40 per cent of riders have daily access to cars, and the same percentage of riders are from households with an income under $25,000. The Via Rail site would leave passengers with cabs or Uber as their only options.

“When you move it away from major bus routes, of course you make it a lot more difficult for people to catch the bus,” says Boyle Street Community Services outreach worker, Colin Inglis, who has worked in the core for five years. He says the lack of intercity transit affects people’s ability to access treatment centres outside the city and for low-income people in rural areas to access services such as health specialists, or to simply visit family.

Downtown Business Association executive director Jim Taylor agrees that the biggest hit to moving the station is to riders in need of service, but not surrounding businesses, who could take advantage of transportation or courier services. “It’s going to be a difficult thing for Greyhound riders to facilitate the kind of connection they need once they get in the city,” says Taylor, who says most business people travel on Red Arrow.

The move is in line with an overall redesign of the neighbourhood’s demographics, says Taylor. “Even if the Greyhound station were going to stay there, the stuff that’s being built—the residential and commercial—would change the nature of the street anyway.”

“It’s going to be a difficult thing for Greyhound riders to facilitate the kind of connection they need once they get in the city.” —Downtown Business Association executive director Jim Taylor

Greyhound itself would prefer to stay downtown. But increasing rent and the required footprint makes it impossible, says Peter Hamel, Greyhound regional vice president.

The company sees its Winnipeg location as a model in creating a “downtown touch point.” It maintained a satellite passenger drop-off point downtown since moving the station to the inter-national airport, seven kilometers away.

Esslinger says any new location should have a downtown shuttle service. But right now there’s no consideration for public transit. Esslinger says the city can’t prioritize it over other projects. “We have a whole long list of people in new neighbourhoods waiting for transit sites,” she says.

Inglis hopes the city plays a role in improving intercity transport access. “As a society, we have to think about how we cover those bases for folks when it’s no longer commercially viable for Greyhound to run them.”

Greyhound is currently dedicated to partnering with Via Rail on location, says Hamel, as well as with the City on downtown kiosks or drop-off locations.

(Editor’s Note: In March 2016, Greyhound officially announced that it would move alongside Via Rail’s northwest station.)


This entry was posted in 2015 Winter, Core Questions.