After a rocky start to their B.C. route in late 2018, Rider Express plans to add an overnight bus to their Vancouver to Calgary route. (Rider Express Photo)

Rocky start to Rider Express’ first year operating in B.C.

Company hopes to add a night bus between Vancouver and Calgary

One of the companies that stepped in after Greyhound’s departure left a lack of inter-city bus service in Western Canada is looking back on a year of operation for its B.C. routes.

Rider Express was already an established transportation provider in Saskatchewan when Greyhound ceased operation in late October 2018, but it found B.C. to be a challenging market to succeed in at first.

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According to a statement from Rider, initial difficulties included long distances to cover between population centres and low rider demand following its fall 2018 launch.

Public awareness of the newly-established routes and finding suitable pickup and drop-off points were also cited as difficulties, which led to Rider’s offerings shrinking to one bus a week in early 2019. The single weekly bus was well below the once-daily schedule specified in Rider’s license with the Passenger Transportation Board and, according to the statement from the company, it considered abandoning its Calgary to Vancouver route altogether.

Wayne Farrell, who manages Rider’s drivers on the Highway 1 route between Calgary and Kamloops, said ridership increased dramatically through the spring of 2019 and achieved daily service in the early summer. Farrell said Rider enjoyed full buses over the summer and heard plenty of requests to supplement the daytime route with overnight service between Calgary and Vancouver.

According to Farrell, the company is working on the details of an additional overnight Trans-Canada route which it hopes to have serving the communities between Calgary and Vancouver by spring 2020.

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