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Feds to tackle Greyhound's western pullout

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OTTAWA—Facing pressure from rural communities and opposition MPs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he's asked Transport minister Marc Garneau to find solutions to Greyhound Canada's decision to pull its buses from the Prairies, B.C., and Northern Ontario.

Greyhound's news was “difficult” to hear for people who already are struggling economically but rely on the service to visit family, travel for work, and get across the country, Trudeau said Tuesday during a visit to Nova Scotia.

“I have asked our minister of transport to work with the provinces, to work with communities, to work with the company to try and see what paths forward there are,” he noted.

Trudeau was responding to questions from reporters on a highway in Sutherlands River, N.S. about whether Ottawa is prepared to offer subsidies to keep the service running or provide an alternative.

A spokeswoman for Garneau would not elaborate Tuesday on options under consideration.

“As stated last week, we empathize with Canadians who could be impacted by Greyhound's decision,” said Delphine Denis.

“It is an unfortunate decision that will impact communities but we are encouraged by the recent expression of interest by Canadian bus carriers using different business models and equipment to fill some of the potential service gaps caused by Greyhound's decision,” she added.

While bus companies have said they will aim to fill certain transportation gaps, they also have indicated some rural routes will be challenging and that's likely where the government will have to help.

It could mean subsidizing less-sustainable routes or providing financial assistance to drivers in small communities.

Greyhound Canada senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick has said the company long has advocated a community funding model to allow any private carrier to bid on essential rural services.

Kendrick said Greyhound has raised its concerns with provincial and federal officials over the years, and will continue to push Ottawa to look at improving transport in northern communities.

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