By David F. Rooney
While he admits that he should have better advertised Greyhound Bus Depot’s move from its old spot at 1899 Fraser by the Dennys Restaurant to the Ol’ Frontier at the intersection of Highway 23 North and the Trans Canada, Greyhound agent Matt Singh insists the surprise move could not be helped and, in the long run, change really is for the better.
“We really only had a week’s warning (of the need to move the depot),” he said in an interview Thursday. “This time when the lease came up I suspected that it might not be renewed but I didn’t know it for sure until the last week of November by which time we had a week to move the operation.”
Singh says he knows he should have done a better job preparing the public for the move but in the rush to move everything out of the old building he never got beyond buying some radio spots on CKCR EZ Rock.
That virtually unadvertised move ignited a storm of comment — most of it very negative and critical — on The Current, the Stoke List and other media.
“I thought some of the things that were said were very hurtful,” Singh said.
That may well be but it could — even should — have been avoided, especially when you consider that the move is probably for the better.
Take the old depot building. Singh said it was not a healthy place to work.
“The leaseholder let it go and the building was in really rough shape — it had major leakage, health and mildew issues and it was never fixed properly. Everything was just a patch job and the leakage go so bad it damaged the furnace. The building was really as the end of its life.
“On the other hand everything in this building is newly renovated and up-to-Code. It’s a healthy building.”
The location is perceived as being difficult to get to and much further away than the old location but if you measure the actual walking distance from Tim Hortons it’s not that different, perhaps 50 or 100 yards. There is a sidewalk along the north side of the Trans-Canada from LaForme to the Frontier and while the City has — until now — neglected to clear snow from it, Singh says the City should begin doing so to ensure safe pedestrian access to this important transportation hub.
There are several other important points in favour of the move:
- The old building was only open 49 hours a week. The new location ensures that it will be open for a minimum of 126 hours a week and it may eventually be open 24 hours a day;
- Passengers who want to purchase food can now do safely at the Ol’ Frontier Restaurant or purchase food from the store. Previously they had to go to Dennys or dash across the Trans-Canada (and risk getting smeared by a semi or some other vehicle) to grab a quick takeout burger and fries;
- That also means there will be fewer instances of Greyhound passengers trying to grab a fast burger from becoming Revels-stuck by missing their bus. It will be now be virtually impossible for passengers eating — or just sitting — in the Ol’ Frontier Restaurant to miss their bus;
- Security was non existent at the old depot. At the new one there are better lights, video cameras and the store is, for now, manned from 7 am until 1 am;
- Those longer hours mean that people expecting freight can pick it up any day and at almost anytime (“We even had people pick up parcels on Christmas Day — something they could not have done before,” Singh said);
- Singh has turned out of his motel rooms into a lounge — complete with a couch, easy chairs, TV, a computer and coffee machine for Greyhound drivers. There are also three vehicles available to them so they can easily reach their leased accommodation at the Canyon Motor Inn; and
- The new location makes it easier for buses to get on and off the highway. Some people have said they’d prefer to see a downtown bus depot but that’s unlikely to happen. Not only is highway access an issue but where, exactly, could space for a new depot be leased?