When Greyhound Canada announced last July it would be ending bus service in western provinces, Regina’s Firat Uray saw an opening.
Uray is the owner of Rider Express, a bus company he founded a month after the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) shut down.
He previously operated a bus company for 20 years in his homeland of Turkey.
With Greyhound ending service on Halloween, his company started offering a new route on Monday that travels on Highway 1 from Winnipeg to Vancouver.
“It’s an opportunity for us to grow the business,” Uray said. “We can expand our service to Western Canada or maybe in the future, north.”
The route includes stops in Saskatchewan, at Moosomin, Whitewood, Regina, Moose Jaw and Swift Current.
On Nov. 1, Uray said another route will start running from Winnipeg to Edmonton, with stops in Regina and Saskatoon.
To make these trips, Rider Express has now acquired six 50-seat buses to complement its fleet of smaller 15-passenger vehicles.
Rider Express currently employs about 15 workers.
More people — including former Greyhound drivers — will be hired in the future, Uray said.
He plans to offer snacks and beverages onboard as a way to stand out.
Greyhound has said an increase in low-cost flights is a reason why serving rural areas was no longer viable.
However, the need for bus service remains, Uray said.
“Not everybody can afford to fly, right? And not every small town has an airport, or they don’t have access to those flights. Bus service is much-needed in this area,” he said.