By Mabell, Dave on January 31, 2019.
Highway 3 communities will soon be linked between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
Two return trips on weekdays will restore bus service to towns including Coaldale, Taber and Bow Island, abandoned by foreign-owned Greyhound several years ago.
Alberta-based Southland Transportation will be operating the service, officials say, with financial support from the provincial government.
Simon Amos, community access manager in Medicine Hat, says service is expected to begin by late February or early March. The provincial government asked city officials to organized the start up when it announced the Highway 3 link and other regional bus runs last year.
Contract details – including the fares to be charged – are being negotiated between the city and the bus company, Amos says. He reports the company, which provides school bus service in many parts of Alberta, plans to use a 20-passenger Freightliner coach with wheelchair access.
Round trips to Lethbridge would leave Medicine Hat in the morning and afternoon, with exact times to be announced later. But bus stop locations and other details have already been determined, Amos adds.
“We’ve done a lot of the work.”
Amos says parcels and freight will not be carried – despite the vehicle’s brand name – as Greyhound did. Once a Calgary-based company, Greyhound was acquired by an overseas company before it began eliminating routes in a number of Alberta and British Columbia regions. It ceased Western Canadian operations last fall.
That left Lethbridge with just one highway bus service, Red Arrow to Calgary and points north. But Medicine Hat has no inter-city service now, Amos says.
Rider Express, a Regina company, offers runs north to Saskatoon and Prince Albert as well as west from Saskatoon to Edmonton. But its announced Regina-Medicine Hat-Calgary route was short-lived.
The “Highway 3 Connector” service is being operated as a two-year pilot project, Amos says. It will receive a $350,000 per year subsidy from the province.
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