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Ontario Bus Deregulation

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Our experience here in Manitoba was that Greyhound lobbied long and hard for provincial deregulation mostly so it could abruptly abandon routes without any questions or interference from regulators. Deregulation has led in Manitoba to overwhelmingly less service, not more, and fractured what little remains into an uncoordinated and incomplete service network.

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On 10/19/2020 at 8:03 AM, sdgta2008 said:

This is excellent news for areas that are under served where Greyhound is the law of the land ☺️

oh there is more, I would rather wait after Deregulation takes effect to elaborate. The Ontario Government will be contracting out runs to private carriers in the province.  Deregulation is the first step into this plan and then they tender to the lowest bidder.

On 10/19/2020 at 10:16 PM, DavidW said:

Our experience here in Manitoba was that Greyhound lobbied long and hard for provincial deregulation mostly so it could abruptly abandon routes without any questions or interference from regulators. Deregulation has led in Manitoba to overwhelmingly less service, not more, and fractured what little remains into an uncoordinated and incomplete service network.

When Coach Canada wanted deregulation in Ontario in the mid 90s, Greyhound didn't support it, based on what I read. In Ontario, Greyhound has guaranteed income with Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal, Toronto-New York City and Toronto-London-Detroit routes. Our population between Toronto and Ottawa is much better than Manitoba. Greyhound has not even reacted to Deregulation in Ontario yet.

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I don't see anything happen till some time in 2021.

As for the routes I can't see operators picking up routes that don't make money or have enough passengers to justify a coach on that route.

 

The ones that are profitable, how many carriers can serve that route? Example Ottawa<-->Toronto is a very profitable route, but when you have more the 2 companies compete/ IE Greyhound vs Coach Canada vs Ontario Northland(lets say)  each will try to under cut the other in prices to get customers? Also with Greyhound pulling out the Bus Terminals in Ottawa(no location has ben chosen yet as replacement) & Toronto(Pearson which some distance & time consuming to downtown), will Coach Canada & possibly Ontario Northland stay at the terminals making it easier to get downtown? The terminal in TO is basically downtown & the one in Ottawa is more or less close enough to downtown making it easier to get to hotels or other transfer points.

 

It'll be interesting to see what's going to happen, but like I said I don't see anything happen till some time in 2021 and that's assuming Greyhound doesn't decide to just leave Canada?

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9 hours ago, MCIBUS said:

I don't see anything happen till some time in 2021.

As for the routes I can't see operators picking up routes that don't make money or have enough passengers to justify a coach on that route.

 

The ones that are profitable, how many carriers can serve that route? Example Ottawa<-->Toronto is a very profitable route, but when you have more the 2 companies compete/ IE Greyhound vs Coach Canada vs Ontario Northland(lets say)  each will try to under cut the other in prices to get customers? Also with Greyhound pulling out the Bus Terminals in Ottawa(no location has ben chosen yet as replacement) & Toronto(Pearson which some distance & time consuming to downtown), will Coach Canada & possibly Ontario Northland stay at the terminals making it easier to get downtown? The terminal in TO is basically downtown & the one in Ottawa is more or less close enough to downtown making it easier to get to hotels or other transfer points.

 

It'll be interesting to see what's going to happen, but like I said I don't see anything happen till some time in 2021 and that's assuming Greyhound doesn't decide to just leave Canada?

OMCA is saying July 2021 when deregulation will take effect.

From what I am hearing, the Ontario Government will identify routes and contract out those routes through a bidding process. With that being said, the purpose of deregulation is to get Charter Carriers to do some Intercity Line Runs to cope with no tourism travel since the pandemic could drag on for another year or 2.

From what I am hearing about the New Union Station Bus Terminal, Metrolinx has not even finalized the rent or the Intercity Carriers who will use it.

As for Greyhound, I am hearing everything from restarting as soon as they find a location in Ottawa to leaving Canada once and for all.

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4 hours ago, Megabus Rider said:

OMCA is saying July 2021 when deregulation will take effect.

From what I am hearing, the Ontario Government will identify routes and contract out those routes through a bidding process. With that being said, the purpose of deregulation is to get Charter Carriers to do some Intercity Line Runs to cope with no tourism travel since the pandemic could drag on for another year or 2.

From what I am hearing about the New Union Station Bus Terminal, Metrolinx has not even finalized the rent or the Intercity Carriers who will use it.

As for Greyhound, I am hearing everything from restarting as soon as they find a location in Ottawa to leaving Canada once and for all.

I wonder if we'll see Ontario Northland pick up some more service.

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4 hours ago, roeco said:

I wonder if we'll see Ontario Northland pick up some more service.

Ontario Northland is a government agency and not restricted by existing OHTB regulations, so they can do what they want. I wouldn't see them expanding much more outside of their existing area, their mandate is to serve Northern Ontario, and they already do that well, especially with the service they have added over the past few years.

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Ontario Northland might possibility pick up  the Ottawa<--->Prembrook(and further north on that route) & may be just may be Ottawa<-->Toronto run. In any case I see the Ottawa<-->Toronto run being a friece compaction for that route main between Greyhound/Megabus(Coach Canada)/ and maybe one or two others. That route is always packed during regular days(especially during holidays).Grant you that was pre-covide 19. True things have changed but once Covide 19 finally gone, I see it returning to normal to way thye loads where pre-covide 19.

 

As to what that run might look like then, is any ones guess. Who be serving it? Greyhound? Megabus? Ontario Northland? or some other carrier remains to be seen, but my bet is either Greyhound or Mega?

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6 hours ago, MCIBUS said:

Ontario Northland might possibility pick up  the Ottawa<--->Prembrook(and further north on that route) & may be just may be Ottawa<-->Toronto run. In any case I see the Ottawa<-->Toronto run being a friece compaction for that route main between Greyhound/Megabus(Coach Canada)/ and maybe one or two others. That route is always packed during regular days(especially during holidays).Grant you that was pre-covide 19. True things have changed but once Covide 19 finally gone, I see it returning to normal to way thye loads where pre-covide 19.

 

As to what that run might look like then, is any ones guess. Who be serving it? Greyhound? Megabus? Ontario Northland? or some other carrier remains to be seen, but my bet is either Greyhound or Mega?

Don't forget greyhound has a bus that goes from Peterborough to Pembroke also three times per week. 

And then the bus from Toronto to Owen Sound through Barrie and Collingwood.  

Then the bus from Toronto to Windsor via London. Do they serve Sarnia as well? 

Niagara falls has both greyhound and Megabus, but do they take different routes to get there?

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I wonder if this means we'll see private bus companies in the GTA serving parts of Toronto from the 905 (I could see routes feeding the subway, especially Finch and Kipling stations). This would be stepping into GO Transit's and the suburban systems' turf (especially YRT and Mississauga Transit). I don't see why this wouldn't be allowed as long as no local passengers are carried within one city, unless the GTA is defined as a single municipality for operational purposes. The 12 passenger vans that run between Manhattan and New Jersey would probably be what such services would look like.

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9 hours ago, IRT_BMT_IND said:

I wonder if this means we'll see private bus companies in the GTA serving parts of Toronto from the 905 (I could see routes feeding the subway, especially Finch and Kipling stations). This would be stepping into GO Transit's and the suburban systems' turf (especially YRT and Mississauga Transit). I don't see why this wouldn't be allowed as long as no local passengers are carried within one city, unless the GTA is defined as a single municipality for operational purposes. The 12 passenger vans that run between Manhattan and New Jersey would probably be what such services would look like.

We already see this to a degree; there are a number of privately-operated shuttle buses between subway stations and condos or office buildings; some of these cross municipal borders. Not sure they need to be regulated as it stands now... 

Capacity isn't the big issue with suburban systems, it's generally frequency. While I could see people paying higher prices for a guaranteed seat, I don't see it when the regular local bus still has room.

Travel in Toronto's suburbs is also a lot more scattered than between NY/NJ, which has limited corridors because of the river and the bridges/tunnels needed to cross between.

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I assume those private shuttles are only available to workers in those office buildings, AFAIK private services like this don't require an intercity bus license as they do not sell tickets to the general public. This is the same reason why only U of T students can ride the UTM shuttle buses. I think at least one of the banks (TD?) operates similar employee shuttles between Toronto and a few other cities.

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On 11/7/2020 at 9:59 PM, IRT_BMT_IND said:

I assume those private shuttles are only available to workers in those office buildings, AFAIK private services like this don't require an intercity bus license as they do not sell tickets to the general public. This is the same reason why only U of T students can ride the UTM shuttle buses. I think at least one of the banks (TD?) operates similar employee shuttles between Toronto and a few other cities.

Those runs are chartered to licensed Charter Bus Operators in Ontario. First Student has the U of T shuttle contract, Mulmer has the TD employee contract and TOK Coach Lines has the Palace Pier Condo Shuttle contracts.

On 11/6/2020 at 10:32 PM, IRT_BMT_IND said:

I wonder if this means we'll see private bus companies in the GTA serving parts of Toronto from the 905 (I could see routes feeding the subway, especially Finch and Kipling stations). This would be stepping into GO Transit's and the suburban systems' turf (especially YRT and Mississauga Transit). I don't see why this wouldn't be allowed as long as no local passengers are carried within one city, unless the GTA is defined as a single municipality for operational purposes. The 12 passenger vans that run between Manhattan and New Jersey would probably be what such services would look like.

You are onto something but I can't comment as my friend is on a NDA with a Ontario Government Agency.

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On 11/9/2020 at 1:48 AM, Megabus Rider said:

Those runs are chartered to licensed Charter Bus Operators in Ontario. First Student has the U of T shuttle contract, Mulmer has the TD employee contract and TOK Coach Lines has the Palace Pier Condo Shuttle contracts.

You are onto something but I can't comment as my friend is on a NDA with a Ontario Government Agency.

It would make more sense to start where GO Transit service ends.  Build a hub there for service to farther destinations. Like Barrie to Collingwood, Owensound, Orillia, Etc.  Yes LINK does that but do you really want to take the Link bus from Barrie to Collingwood and then transfer to another bus to get to Owensound? 

Similar to Greyhound but with codeshare agreements. 

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On 11/10/2020 at 3:42 PM, Shaun said:

It would make more sense to start where GO Transit service ends.  Build a hub there for service to farther destinations. Like Barrie to Collingwood, Owensound, Orillia, Etc.  Yes LINK does that but do you really want to take the Link bus from Barrie to Collingwood and then transfer to another bus to get to Owensound? 

Similar to Greyhound but with codeshare agreements. 

Can't comment any further, sorry.

I spoke to a friend, who has a friend that works for Coach Canada, apparently Coach Canada does not want the repeal and deregulation to happen. They are against deregulation after all. They have asked their Drivers to sign their petition to stop the repeal and deregulation. I will continue to dig further and see what I can come up with.

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I could be mistaken, but I think the new owners of Coach Canada has something to with this?

None the less the Ford Government is set on do this, so not much can really be done on the matter.

I guess we will have to wait and see if deregulation is actually is good for the industry & public.

 

 

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Not sure if they’re under new ownership, but coach Canada is owned and operated by Trentway-Wager who has had line run service going back to their purple buses. deregulation would affect them greatly just like it will affect greyhound. Coach Canada could lose key runs that actually make them money ( pre covid ) such as Kingston-Pearson airport, Toronto-welland and Toronto-Niagara-Buffalo Airport, runs which aren’t subsidized by megabus

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I thought Coach Canada/USA was owned by some investment group or something like that? I know they where own by Stage Coach, but I think they sold Coach Canada/USA to a investment or Finacle group?

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Yes you’re right on that, I was mistaken in that Trentway Wager doesn’t own the coaches they just operate them and employ the drivers and staff for the Coach Canada/MegaBus branding 

stagecoach disposed to coach Canada ( and USA ) in 2019 to an equity firm 

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Ok, so this is what I know, Coach Canada is only opposing deregulation because of the timing. They're afraid that since they have had to reduce departures on the Montreal and Niagara Falls run if deregulation happened now or in July 2021 as per the OMCA, they would not be able to recover from the losses they accumulated since March. It has nothing to do with the new ownership of the private equity firm. I was told that this came from John Crowley, senior management of Coach Canada.

25 minutes ago, ZümmyZüm said:

Yes you’re right on that, I was mistaken in that Trentway Wager doesn’t own the coaches they just operate them and employ the drivers and staff for the Coach Canada/MegaBus branding 

stagecoach disposed to coach Canada ( and USA ) in 2019 to an equity firm 

The corporate structure works like this, Coach Canada and Coach USA are just holding companies, those companies don't own or operate the buses. Trentway-Wagar and all those individual companies are the operators but they are all subsidiaries to Coach Canada and Coach USA. The advantage of have a holding company or companies is when one of those subsidiaries are sued, the the subsidiaries will only offer a payout from their pocket, not the pockets of Coach Canada or Coach USA. Since Coach Canada and Coach USA are self insured, this works well when they self insure each subsidiary.

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Their is alot of opportunity in Ontario as well as alot of the rest of Canada. Really intercity bus service should be similar to Airlines with central stops and code share/interline agreements to connect all. Small carriers feeding into large ones and let the market dictate the service and the carriers. Keep everyone on their toes. Wouldnt that be a good system to have. Benefits all.

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The Ontario Legislature continued on the debate of Bill 213 which has 2 schedules to deregulate the Ontario Bus Industry.

I thought I would share on what the Member Opposite (Ms. Jessica Bell, NDP, Transit Critic) had to say about about the deregulation of the Ontario Bus Industry;

Quote

Ms. Jessica Bell:

I want to spend the rest of my time talking about schedule 16 and schedule 24. Both of these pieces of legislation essentially deregulate intercity transit. These pieces of legislation essentially give cabinet greater authority over how to regulate intercity transit. At this point, because the regulation hasn’t been introduced yet, we don’t know what this government’s plan is when it comes to regulating intercity transit. What we do know is you’re looking at taking away all the regulations, or essentially a lot of the regulations that exist.

It is tough to say what this means. I’ve reached out to stakeholders across Ontario to get a better understanding of what these two schedules mean for the province. The people who I talked to include the Ontario Public Transit Association; representatives at the York transit agencies, at the TTC, and Ontario Northland, which runs transit in northeastern Ontario and the north; and Greyhound and private operators, who are actually pretty concerned about this bill; as well as transit workers and unions. I called them up, and I asked them, “What does this mean? What kind of impact will this have on transit? How will this impact your business? How will it impact the quality of service that you can provide the people of Ontario?” I got some pretty concerning responses, which I would like to share with you today in the hopes that you will take this information, digest it and consider introducing amendments and changes to this bill so that we can make sure intercity transit in Ontario is improved and not worsened.

Let me summarize some of the changes that I heard or the concerns that I heard. One is that by regulating transit between cities, it will make it easier for the replacement of public services between municipalities, to be replaced with privatized car service. So instead of having a bus run between York and Toronto, this will make it a lot easier for Uber to run between York and Toronto.

When we replace public transit with privatized transit, we get a few problems. Number one, it means that transit agencies have less revenue. In the case of the TTC, studies already show that Uber has cost the TTC about $100 million a year in lost fare revenue. That creates instability with transit agencies, and it moves away riders that every transit agency needs into privatized car service.

The problem with this, as well, is that it contributes to congestion, which is not what we want, not what this government wants.

It also means that we are replacing decent public service jobs—where a driver can earn upwards of $60,000 a year, which is what you need just to get by in Toronto—with jobs that, at best, pay $30,000 a year, and that’s if the driver is working all the time. They’re independent contractors. They get no health benefits. They get no protection. They get no sick leave. These are precarious part-time jobs that this government is potentially creating with schedules 16 and 24. What that means is, this growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, which has been exacerbated so much by this pandemic, is made even worse with this bill. I have some concerns about that.

The second thing that this bill does is, it eliminates exclusivity on bus routes. How it currently works now is, you have to apply to run a route. Let’s say Greyhound: They have permission to run from London to Ottawa, and they essentially control that route. When you deregulate that, it can lead to increased competition on major routes. In some ways, that can potentially be a good thing, because you could get some fare reduction, because there’s increased competition. The problem with that is, where are these companies going to cut? When I spoke to Greyhound—which is very unhappy about these two changes—and when I spoke to the transit workers, they were adamant that there will be cuts in wages, cuts in training and cuts in bus maintenance. That impacts the quality of the jobs we have in Ontario, and it impacts the safety of the transit that we are delivering. So that’s a concern.

What’s also a concern is that this might help bus routes on major inner city routes—like I said, London, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa—but it’s not going to do much of anything to help the amount of service and the quality of service that we desperately need to see between smaller cities. Bus operators, transit agencies, associations are all adamant about that. There’s not a chance that deregulation of this sector is going to lead to the kind of service that we need in those areas. The reason why it’s not going to improve service in these areas is because the rider has to pay a lot of money for the cost of running this service—there are not enough riders who are willing to pay enough money to make it break even. Greyhound has said this very clearly, and other agencies have said this as well.

What’s even more concerning is that by privatizing or deregulating transit service between inner city routes, you might have a situation where the public service that is provided becomes even more vulnerable. The reason why I bring this up is because I spoke to Ontario Northland. Ontario Northland’s job is to provide service in the north to very underserved cities. When I spoke to them about what this bill could mean for the quality of service that they provide, they provided me with a few insights that I’d like to share today. One is that if you deregulate these routes, a private operator is going to come in and they’re going to take the route that is the most profitable and that has the most riders. So if you’ve got a situation where Ontario Northland is running a route from North Bay that goes to Orillia and then to Toronto, it needs those riders from Orillia to Toronto to make the whole route break even. A private operator is not going to do the whole route. They’re just going to do the more profitable route, from Orillia to Toronto, take those riders and leave the publicly funded agency with the rest. That is a problem. Ontario Northland thought that was a problem, and they do a very important job, providing quality service to people who need it.

1630

I spoke to Ontario Northland around what kind of people use this kind of service, and they provided some very insightful responses. They said that their customer base includes seniors who can no longer drive or who don’t want to drive in the snow, and they need that service to go from A to B. They don’t want to be stuck somewhere in between, because a private operator only wants to do a chunk of it, and then they have to somehow get that last route in. They don’t want to be in that situation.

It includes First Nations people. It includes people who have accessibility challenges. Northland was very concerned about what the impact would be if there is a deregulation of intercity transit on accessibility, because Northland is required to provide accessible transit, like many transit agencies are. But will private operators? I don’t know. You don’t have any regulation yet around what kind of requirements these private operators will have. That is a concern. What happens to people who need a bus service that is accessible?

They also talked about the very real reality that people use bus service when they need to go to a health appointment, maybe regular chemotherapy appointments. They can’t drive—maybe they can’t afford it; maybe they don’t have access to a car—and they rely on that transit as well. What they need is a service that’s going to go from A to B, that’s properly subsidized, and not have a situation where they have to go to A to here, because that’s the profitable route, and then they have to find their way to that last little section.

I’m not talking hypotheticals here. I’m talking about what people who do this job of transporting people around our large province do each and every day, private and public. This is what they’re telling me about what the consequences of schedule 16 and schedule 24 are. My request is that you look more into the impact of what these schedules mean on transit, because what we don’t want is more cuts. What we need is more investment, and that means subsidy. It means investment into providing that kind of quality public transit all across Ontario, so that it doesn’t matter where you live; you can still catch transit and get to where you want to go at an affordable price and do it safely and reliably. That’s something we as a province can do. That’s something you as a government can do.

That’s a summary of my comments today: my concerns about schedule 2 and the unintended consequences of schedule 16 and schedule 24.

Anybody have thoughts or want to contact this 'Transit Critic?'

Here are my pointers:

- Why would Ms. Jessica Bell talk to Ontario Northland? They are not regulated by the current laws.

- As for Uber, the OMCA published a news release back on October 14 and they mentioned this: 'They are even open to discussing dealing with the ride share service vehicles that currently operate outside the current safety regulations. But they were clear that this is an opportunity to strengthen the safety regime if changes to regs are required.' I should also mention, it seems Ms. Jessica Bell didn't even contact the OMCA about this.

- If the TTC has lost revenue to Uber, why did the City create a new licensing classification for them? Why didn't the TTC voice their concerns then?

- Now we know in addition to Coach Canada, Greyhound is not for deregulation. I mean if Flixbus and Ourbus came to Ontario, they would both use reputable Charter Bus Operators who pay Drivers $60k a year with benefits.

- How would Ontario Northland experience losses to Private Carriers when Ontario Northland is Government funded?

- I think Ms. Jessica Bell needs to be on layoff like the Charter Bus Drivers who are on layoff and maybe she would retract some of those statements.

- The OMCA and the ABA should 'fact check' Ms. Jessica Bell as well.

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I'm not in the bus biz just a fan, and only comment from a Fan/customers point of view.

 

I'm not sure what the future holds for intercity bus travel in Ontario.

I know regardless of what the opisthion(government) says this will be passed. The PC's are inten on passing this.

 

As for the consumer, I'm guessing it depends on where you live. Places like Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, London, Niagara Falls, etc are more or less safe as they already have established routes and are more likely money makers. Its those in the smaller communities that might be out of luck.

 

Be it Greyhound, Coach Canada, existing companies in Ontario or new ones like Flix the there going for the ones that make money.

I can't comment on all routes in Ontario, but the Ottawa-Toronto is a gold mine for Greyhound. I can see Greyhound(assuming the stay in Canada)Coach Canada, Flix and maybe 1 or 2 more trying for the Ottawa- Toronto run. Does this mean its better for the consumer? Maybe Yes? Maybe No? It all depends on scheduling? Price? Pick up/drop off point(if its hard to get to or on the street it may not be the best option), how relyable and history of the bus operator?

 

Yes at present we've got Covide-19, but that can't last for ever. Hopefully things will be back to or least close to normal pre-covide in about a year or two, after that we will see how well  Deregulation is doing.

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Bill 213 which includes 2 acts to deregulate the Bus Industry has been carried from second reading, The Bill will be sent to Committee before going through third reading. Schedule 2 of the Bill is what caused it to go through Committee instead straight through to third reading. This would be Coach Canada's and Greyhound Canada's opportunity to speak to the Committee about deregulating the Bus Industry. Hopefully they will have no clue since the Government is giving a very small window for the general public to talk with the Committee, according to the Opposition.

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