Greyhound is gone but the defunct bus line still lives on in the memories of a long-time former passenger and a retired driver.
Calgary-raised singer-songwriter Orit Shimoni was so deeply affected by the shutdown that she decided to write a song lamenting the bus service's demise in Canada.
"It was long overdue. It's such a big part of my story, but also, such a wonderful song-idiom to add my two cents worth to,” said Shimoni (oritshimoni.com), who had been mulling the idea ever since Greyhound ended service in western Canada in 2018.
"Thanks to your prompt, I now have a song about the Greyhound," said Shimoni, who, at Alberta Prime Times' suggestion, put a reflective tune together in a few days. (View link at https://youtu.be/sA46p2uG2ugnk)
Describing her bus-riding days, she wrote, "Whoever you met on the bus was just there for that stretch of my journey, sharing in the camaraderie of the experience and not bound by any further obligation. There was a special kind of freedom in those long hours that felt like you belong with other people who don't belong, all in it for a ride and then each going his or her way."
Shimoni, who had been using Greyhound to get to her gigs across Canada, soon became part of the onboard entertainment group with VIA Rail in 2018 - allowing her to travel to her performance with free transportation and meals. Last year, COVID-19 restrictions suspended that travelling and touring altogether.
"The absence of a public transit to connect people from different towns feels doubly tragic to me; a loss of contact and a way of life and a sustainable independent career as an artist, gone," she said.
More than a half-decade before Shimoni started riding the Greyhound, Edmonton-based driver Ted Heemeryck was calling it a career after more than 1.8 million miles over a 30-year span.
While he faced some challenges on those countless trips across western Canada, Heemeryck said he is proud of always bringing his passengers to their destination.
"I never left a bus behind," said Heemeryck, remembering he only had to replace five flat tires over his decades of driving.
"I never had a mechanical breakdown, though I did top up the radiator once to prevent overheating."
Heemeryck, who drove a tractor as a boy on a farm north of Edmonton, said life as a Greyhound bus driver was initially daunting.
"The mechanical side of driving a bus was quite easy to pick up. It was everything else that was challenging--selling and taking tickets, being a babysitter, a baggage handler, you name it."
But Heemeryck, 79, who went on regular return trips to Peace River, Saskatoon and other points in western Canada, soon embraced all facets of the job.
"I just loved it. I loved wearing that suit, meeting the people and going on those runs," he said.
Like Shimoni, Heemeryck wishes Greyhound was still operating.
“It is so difficult on the seniors in the smaller towns,” he said. “They used to come down to the doctors for treatments. Now they have to find friends or family to give them a ride."
Greyhound Canada started in 1929, operating first in B.C. and then Alberta. It was sold to Greyhound USA in 1940 and became part of the intercity bus carrier serving more than 3,800 destinations across North America.
After the 2018 closure of routes in Western Canada, which Greyhound Canada said was due to declining ridership, increased car ownership and competition from low-cost airlines, Greyhound ceased all Canadian operations in the spring of 2021.