Greyhound Canada To End Bus Services in Western Provinces!

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epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..not sure if this is a drift or not but the greyhound behaviour has opened up the topic.

Moving to the offensive, from anti-privatization to pro-public

I recently had the privilege of travelling to Montreal to speak at and participate in a conference called The Future is Public, hosted by Friends of Public Services and the Municipal Services Project and sponsored by several national labour unions. It was promoted with the tagline “Building a pro-public movement for everyone.” I want to share some of my thoughts and experiences from the conference because I think there is a lot to be learned from it....

6079_Smith_W

Well that's the thing. There are parallels to what happened here with forcing phone competition, and we had bell, telus and the rest of them trying to get the cream in urban markets while it is left to Sasktel to maintain infrastructure in the whole province. Even so we have the lowest phone and internet rates in the country, and Sasktel is the last public phone utility on the continent (And the provincial government is doing its best to try and shut if down).
Similar thing with the bus. I doubt this was really about the service not being viable. Given their track record I thing they just weren't making enough to consider it worth it. I'm wondering if brad wall would have been able to shut down STC if greyhound had just gotten out of the picture a year ago and freed up those profitable lines for a service that actually factored public service into their business model.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Similar thing with the bus. I doubt this was really about the service not being viable. Given their track record I thing they just weren't making enough to consider it worth it.

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and freed up those profitable lines for a service that actually factored public service into their business model.

Just asking here, but were the "profitable" lines awarded exclusively to Greyhound?

I personally feel that Crown corporations should typically compete for business, but I'd certainly never suggest that they should be unable to.  Canada Post's "Priority Mail" competes with UPS and Purolator and FedEx, as (I think) it should, but it would be a bit self-defeating if we said that CP cannot carry courier packages in markets served by the other three.

Aren't those basically the same thing?  Businesses don't actually have to be hemmorhaging money before they can say "this isn't worth it".  You keep insisting you're not suggesting that Greyhound owed us anything, but at the same time you also keep insisting that "they could have done more" or that there's something immoral about them winding down operations.

Misfit Misfit's picture

Actually Magoo, I support Crown corporations having a monopoly. they don't have to gouge customers To make a profit and by having a monopoly they generate more money for the government and help keep our taxes lower. And this system has worked very well thank you very much.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Actually Magoo, I support Crown corporations having a monopoly.

Very well.  But I was really inquiring about why STC had to wait for Greyhound to withdraw in order to serve some markets.

WRT to a monopoly, that's certainly one way for a Crown corporation to succeed.  But I would think that what with the "no profit" thing, CCs should succeed regardless, shouldn't they?  How could a private company, with shareholders expecting cheques, compete against a lean, mean CC with no such mandate?  Are we forgetting how PetroCanada put all the other gas stations out of business??  And how private couriers like UPS or FedEx are hanging on by a toenail?

Misfit Misfit's picture

STC won't come back. Brad Wall guaranteed that by liquidating all their bus stations.

6079_Smith_W

Fyi, Canada post owns purolator.

And Yes, greyhound served the highway 16 and 1 routes in the province, as well as the route to Calgary. A lot of cream actually. Sure STC had the option of going to war with them but what would have been the point of that given Greyhounds national service (though now in hindsight they may as well just have done that). But no, unsupervised competition is not always a productive thing, as with the phone situation here, and the bus.

Why? Because the most important thing isn't how the businesses fare, and their freedom. It is Making sure the public is served.
After all there are far too many cases of businesses closing down when it suits them, and leaving communities in the lurch and governments to clean up their mess.

progressive17 progressive17's picture

We should be a tiny bit concerned about how the businesses fare and their freedom, because then they might create jobs, which we can then tax to provide public services.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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And Yes, greyhound served the highway 16 and 1 routes in the province, as well as the route to Calgary. A lot of cream actually. Sure STC had the option of going to war with them but what would have been the point of that given Greyhounds national service

Would the point have been "healthy competition"?  Doesn't that benefit the public?

But if you're saying that STC voluntarily chose to only service the most unprofitable routes and leave the "cream" for that American company then how can you express surprise when they fold faster than Superman on laundry day?

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Why? Because the most important thing isn't how the businesses fare, and their freedom. It is Making sure the public is served.

Again, I think the public is well served by lower fares and two choices.  Or at least better than by a monopolistic fare and no choices.

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After all there are far too many cases of businesses closing down when it suits them, and leaving communities in the lurch and governments to clean up their mess.

Exactly.  And yes, I'm looking at YOU, Blockbuster Video!  Dafuq am I supposed to do with my VHS recorder now??  You didn't even TRY to fight Netflix.  You just up and ran as soon as you weren't making billions any more. 

You're still sort of acting like companies have (or should have) some moral responsibility to the very customers who are no longer supporting them, though.  Instead of saying I'm just making that up, maybe you could just explain it?  What do private businesses owe their customers, aside from the obvious (e.g. a safe product and such)?

 

 

progressive17 progressive17's picture

Obviously, businesses should sacrifice for the greater good. So long as Quebec gets an asymmetrical deal.

Pogo Pogo's picture

Magoo,

Two choices makes sense only if you refuse to consider how it works on the ground. I am guessing you are thinking about an airport terminal where there are the Air Canada ticket window will be alongside the WestJet.  The difference is that Airport terminals are stand alone operations.  Bus Terminals are owned by the bus company.  Now I am pretty sure I have seen terminals with secondary companies represented (can't remember for sure).  However the smaller companies were not in competition with the company that was the owner and main tenant of the terminal. This is how the market system evolved and it evolved into almost exclusively monopoly positions on all the routes.  So you cannot say with one breath let the market figure it out and then with the next breath that multiple companies are the best option.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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I am guessing you are thinking about an airport terminal where there are the Air Canada ticket window will be alongside the WestJet.  The difference is that Airport terminals are stand alone operations.  Bus Terminals are owned by the bus company.

And yet bus companies often pick up passengers after leaving the terminal.  Heck, I remember the GO bus doing that back when I lived in Hamilton.  If you had the fare, on you went.   And really, how many trips were "terminal" to "terminal" with no other stops?

But do you have any thoughts to share on why STC would elect to not compete on the lucrative routes that could have made them viable?  Some sort of weird "good sportsmanship" or some such?

Pogo Pogo's picture

Significant barriers to entry. I would guess that Greyhound owned the infrastructure along the way.  So the STC would either of had to duplicate this or found a way to muscle into Greyhounds terminals.

Secondly a money making route may be less inviting dividing the available customers in half.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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So the STC would either of had to duplicate this or found a way to muscle into Greyhounds terminals.

Or just accept passengers curbside.  Or, if it really came to it, yes, building a cheap terminal at each end.

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Secondly a money making route may be less inviting dividing the available customers in half.

I guess I just assumed that whoever was cheaper or better would snap up pretty much all the customers.  And STC would have the huge advantage of not having to cut cheques to stockholders, so I guess I assumed they would win the "who's cheaper" contest easily.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Canada Post has the mandate to serve all corners of the country. Perhaps they should consider entering the people transport service industry - they already have to deal with delivery of materials to some extent (mail and Purolater).

cco

Mr. Magoo wrote:

You're still sort of acting like companies have (or should have) some moral responsibility to the very customers who are no longer supporting them, though.  Instead of saying I'm just making that up, maybe you could just explain it?  What do private businesses owe their customers, aside from the obvious (e.g. a safe product and such)?

Not all private businesses are equal, as much as the libertarian idealists might like it that way. I agree that the Future Shop down the street doesn't owe me anything. I'm the kind of pesky socialist that thinks the government should operate intercity public transit (including airlines). But as currently constructed, the Canadian economy does, in fact, rely on several private entities that have become fundamental pieces of infrastructure in less populated areas. That includes banks that provide the only ATM for 50 miles in small towns, shipping companies that provide the only sealift of goods to isolated areas, airlines that provide the only way to get to small Inuit settlements, phone companies like Northwestel (a BCE subsidiary) that operate as effective monopolies in northern towns that are economically unviable to serve, and yes, Greyhound.

Again, I'm one who thinks the government should directly take over a lot of these industries, but when private business has no compunctions against begging the government for everything they want -- direct subsidies, help with "labour shortages" (importing low-wage foreign workers so they don't have to pay locals what they're worth), road maintenance, withdrawing or privatizing public-sector competition -- and when governments that do these things have reassured the public that "the free market will take care of it", it's a bit disingenuous to say that those businesses don't owe the public anything.

Misfit Misfit's picture

Ok! Both Smith and I have mentioned this repeatedly.,,

STC owned all the terminals. The Saskatchewan government under Brad Wall sold off all the bus terminals. Greyhound was no longer able to use the bus terminals. They were picking up passengers on the outskirts of the cities because STC owned all the terminals and sold them all.

in Regina, the old STC bus terminal is now the new Regina City police detachment headquarters. It was a brand new building.

 

 

6079_Smith_W

You know, instead of Mr. Stubborn I think you are Mr. Doesnt Read What People Said.
And this whole "they owe us" nonsense is something you cooked up, in case you are wondering why you are not getting an answer.
STC didn't fold. It was an ideological decision to kill it. That is why they aren't releasing all the numbers on the sale, and why they rolled it in with an omnibus of deep cuts.
As for the routes, I just said that making sure that the public is served is the point when it is a utility or public service. This "healthy competition" b.s. is what had resulted in people hiring cabs to Saskatoon and others getting killed walking down the highway.
Did I say STC took the least profitable routes? Nope. In fact they had the Saskatoon to Regina route. What I said was that they didn't do greyhounds routes which passed through the province.
If you are going to take part in the conversation do us the courtesy of reading for comprehension please.

Misfit Misfit's picture

Saskatchewan Transportation Company was formed as a crown corporation way back in the early CCF government days because Saskatchewan has a thousand gazillion small communities speckled throughout the province. These people needed public transportation to link them with the larger cities.

it was an NDP brainchild and the Saskatchewan government destroyed it for as what Smith said for ideological reasons because it was something that was important to the NDP party in this province.

ovwr the years, the STC made the province a lot of money.  It was profitable most of the time. Some years though it operated at a loss. It was an important service to our province and many people were dependent on it to get around.

When the Saskatchewan Party was first elected, our province had a television station called SCN. One of Brad Wall's first decisions was to shut the station down.

thw book value of the broadcast station's assets was $4,000,000.00. Brad Wall sold the assets for about $400,000.00 or for 10% of its real value. They sold it off to a company from out of province with no background in filming or broadcasting. Only a fool would sell something off for 1/10th of what it is worth but this is what they did.

these Saskatchewan Party's decisions are not fiscal. They are strictly ideological.

Misfit Misfit's picture

SCN Selloff

https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.897892

"Bluepoint will pay the Saskatchewan government $350,000 for SCN's physical assets as well as its film and video properties. It has also agreed to pay for operations at SCN while it applies to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to transfer the broadcast licence.'

I lied in my earlier post. The Saskatchewan Party sold off its telecommunications company for $350,000.00 And not $400,000.00 like I misquoted.

6079_Smith_W

With STCs closure we already had vulnerable people stranded, everyone else forced to pay more to hire cabs, and others put in danger and getting killed.
Greyhounds mercenary pullout makes a bad situation worse. Spinning this as a bad corporate citizen somehow being the victim of an enitiled populace who think they "owe" us something is as ridiculous as it is callous. No one has stopped them from doing anything here. Ultimately it is governments' policy and indifference that has let people down. Greyhound has shown they care more about an easy buck than doing a good job.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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STC owned all the terminals. The Saskatchewan government under Brad Wall sold off all the bus terminals. Greyhound was no longer able to use the bus terminals.

I bet if those routes weren't a loss leader, GH would have bought those terminals.

Meanwhile, though, no more terminals, but GH is still being cruel and uncaring when they stop running those routes?

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STC didn't fold. It was an ideological decision to kill it.

Why would ANY government kill a money-making Crown corporation?  Or even a "breaking even" one?

You sure they were doing fine, but the government just hated the people that badly?

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Did I say STC took the least profitable routes? Nope. In fact they had the Saskatoon to Regina route. What I said was that they didn't do greyhounds routes which passed through the province.

My point was that competition is healthy and reasonable.  So why didn't they run those routes too, and give GH some reason to drop fares?

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ovwr the years, the STC made the province a lot of money.  It was profitable most of the time. Some years though it operated at a loss. It was an important service to our province and many people were dependent on it to get around.

I get that it was a good thing.  What I don't quite get is how some "right wing" government would take a business that's operating in the black, that people wanted/needed, and that must have contributed to the economy and axed it.  And the only suggestion I've seen is that the government hated making money and helping the people so much they had to stop.  Because secretly (or not, evidently!) they hate the people.

6079_Smith_W

Maybe go back and re read the thread. Every one of those points has been covered more than once.
Except the bit about the terminals. They were owned by a crown corporation. They were not for sale. And as I did say already Greyhound has been begging and threatening for government funding for decades.
Why would they offer to buy a terminal even if it was for sale?
Your theorizing might be interesting to some were it not for the fact it has no bearing on what is actually going on here. Plus it is really irrelevant when compared with the toll this is having on people here.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Smith wrote:
Except the bit about the terminals. They were owned by a crown corporation. They were not for sale.

Misfit wrote:
STC owned all the terminals. The Saskatchewan government under Brad Wall sold off all the bus terminals.

6079_Smith_W

If you need that one explained you really haven't been following. Or you are just playing games.

Misfit Misfit's picture

Magoo,

Saskatchewan has had an ideological battle going on for years.

When Grant Devine governed, his deputy premier (before he went to prison for fraud) sneered and bragged in the Saskatchewan legislature that they  were going to sell off all the crown corporations and that they were going to make sure that the NDP never got  their fingers  on the  mechanics of this province ever again. STC, Sask Tel, SGI, Sask Energy, and Sask Power were all to go. 

People were angry and outraged! They tried but the people resisted and the PCs backed off. They ALL were very profitable and they ALL made the government a lot of money. But they still intended to privatize.

the Canadian Wheat Board was a very successful crown corporation. More than 90% of the farmers supported the Wheat Board and did not want it destroyed. It never lost money. The Conservative party dismantled it for ideological reasons and not for fiscal reasons.

SCN had 4 million in assets and the Brad Wall government sold them to an Ontario company with no background in telecommunications for less than 10 cents on the dollar. That is not being fiscally responsible. 

Why is it that the NDP can balance their books and the Liberals, the PCs, and the Saskatchewan Party simply cannot? BTW, the Liberal debt from the 1930s is understandable.

When Tommy Douglas was elected, the CCF had to take on a 16 million dollar debt that the Liberals left them with.

The federal Liberals gave Saskatchewan a 16 million dollar loan guarantee for the provincial Liberals to use  during the Great Depression.. the federal government did not expect the provincial government to  pay back the loan. It was treated as a forgivable loan guarantee that would gradually disappear over time.

When the CCF defeated the Liberals in Saskatchewan, that forgiveness suddenly  changed.    They had to pay back the full 16 million plus interest.  This was covered in the movie Prairie Giant, the movie made about Tommy Douglas.When they left office in 1964, they left the Liberals with a surplus to work with and Medicare fully operational.

when the NDP were re-elwcted eight years later in 1972, Allen Blakeney inherited a forty million dollar debt that the Liberals left them with. Allen Blakeney left office in 1981 and Grant Devine and the PC party inherited a 2 billion dollar heritage fund that the NDP left them with.

grant Devine squandered that 2 billion dollars and racked up a 15 billion dollar debt.

Roy Romano and then Lorne Calvert cut that debt on half and they left office with An eight billion dollar debt and a AAA credit rating by international bond rating agencies.

the Saskatchewan Party has governed for 12 years and the media swoons about how fiscally responsible Brad Wall and his team are. Our debt is still around seven billion dollars.  They seem to be unable to reduce our debt and our social services have deteriorated.

They have a GTH scandal that none of the media are really reporting about. If it was the NDP, that would have been the number one topic as nauseum for the media to cover. With the Saskatchewan Party the only sound coming from the media is crickets.

thw other parties in Saskatchewan have a long history of being fiscally irresponsible. And the attacks on our crown corporations have been ideological and enhanced by their fiscal stupidity.

 

 

 

Misfit Misfit's picture

I misinformed you about the Saskatchewan Party debt. I do apologize.

History of Saskatchewan debt.

Someone from the SP mentioned that the debt was around 8 billion.

the graph also shows that the NDP had an increasing debt in the late 1970s.

the potash corporations were not paying income tax in Saskatchewan. The NDP tried to negotiate with them and they said that they were losing money. Allen Blakeney asked them to show the government their books to prove that they were not making a profit. They said no. They would not show their books. They also did not legally have to because they were American corporations that were headquartered in the United States.

allen Blakeney then bought up 50.1% of the potash corporations and brought the books up to Canada. It turns out that the potash companies were making tons of money after all and those profits were going into the provincial coffers.

this is where the NDP debt stems from. The revenues from the potash went partially into a heritage fund that totalled 2 billion dollars that was to be left for future generations.

grant Devine squandered it all away.

From the article, this is what the Saskatchewan Party did to the people of this province in the 2017 budget.

  "The government:
– shut down the province’s bus company;
– cut transfers to cities;
– reduced funding to libraries;
– eliminated funding for home repairs for people on social assistance;
– reduced wages for civil servants;
– cut subsidized podiatry services (creating a risk of increased foot amputations for diabetics and others);
– cut subsidies for hearing aids for children; and
– eliminated funding to pay for funerals for its poorest citizens."

6079_Smith_W

Calls in Thunder Bay to restore train service.

www.cbc.ca/amp/1.4750453

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