Last week Greyhound announced that it will discontinue its passenger service between Prince George and Prince Rupert early next year.
As a frequent Greyhound customer (mostly due to a lack of options and because I don’t think my 1998 Jeep would make it out of town) I read the company’s decision rationale with great interest.
Greyhound’s ridership has dropped by 51 per cent along this route since 2010.
When asked what the company has done to address this issue, I was expecting that they would mention things such as improving customer service, making travel times more convenient for customers, increasing the number of trips, increasing advertising, re-branding the company or adding new services.
After all, when the market gets tough for any business, that usually means it’s time to innovate or improve services to become more competitive.
Instead, what Greyhound has done in the past seven years is increase ticket prices, reduce the number of trips and reduce bus sizes. Meanwhile their customer service seems to have gotten worse.
When you take a westbound Greyhound bus in Prince George at 9:30 p.m. (so convenient), your carry-on bags are thoroughly inspected by a security guard. This bus is almost always 20 to 30 minutes late for no apparent reason (I’ve asked them why a number of times and they simply cannot explain it).
Then they ask you to stand in line while you wait for boarding, even though they are still 20 minutes away from opening the gate. After they’ve touched all your clothes and belongings, you hop on the bus and the driver announces that anyone drinking alcohol will be kicked off the bus.
A one-way ticket between Burns Lake and Prince George now costs about $60.
If you take inter-municipal buses in other parts of the world such as South America, buses are always on time, they are frequent (every 15 or 20 minutes), they are extremely comfortable (you can actually recline your seat), they have TVs showing movies, some offer complimentary water and snacks, today’s newspaper, and some even offer meals with a bus attendant to serve you (I’m not making this up). And the best part: they are way cheaper than Greyhound.
But here’s what was most interesting about Greyhound’s response. This is what a company spokesperson told us last week, “Greyhound has been investing in technology to improve the customer experience such as a mobile app and new website, which we plan to bring to Canada in the future.”
This response would’ve been very interesting if it had been written in 2008. It is now 2017 and all major transport companies in the world have been using apps for a number of years.
Every time I take the bus I wonder how this company ever expected to remain in business.