NORTH BAY -- Greyhound Canada has announced it is permanently cutting all bus routes across the country, shutting down the intercity bus carrier operations in Canada after nearly a century of operations.

The decision comes a year after Greyhound Canada suspended all service due to a sharp decline in passengers and mounting travel restrictions amid the first wave of COVID-19.

Greyhound buses did provide Ontario Northland passengers with transportation services through connections. But those connections were discontinued last spring due to the pandemic.

"All of our routes that we have been operating are still in operation,” said Ontario Northland director of passenger operations Tracy MacPhee. “The biggest place where customers would have connected with Greyhound would have generally been in Toronto. But, there is no immediate impact."

MacPhee said Ontario Northland will continue to look at future opportunities and work with other carriers to connect travellers to their destinations.

The announcement led NDP transportation critic Jamie West to reiterate a call on the province to expand Ontario Northland, saying thousands of Ontarians will be left stranded.

People being left behind

“Rural and northern folks are being left behind, again," West said in a statement.

"University and college students are being denied an affordable way to get between home and school. Seniors who need to get to medical appointments or to be reunited with their grandkids once this pandemic nightmare is over are having their independence stripped. These folks all need and deserve a reliable, affordable inter-city transit solution."

West is calling on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to tell Ontarians how the province plans on filling the transportation gap.

“New Democrats have long been calling for the expansion of the province’s two existing public regional transportation companies, GO and Ontario Northland. Now is the time to do it,” said West.

In a statement to CTV News, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said West and the rest of the NDP caucus "did not support northern Ontario in the recent budget."

“They voted again the $5 million funding for the return of passenger rail service, an extra $50 million to support the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and $5 million to support the Ontario Junior Exploration Program,” said Fedeli. “Sadly, the NDP voted against every single one of those northern supports and measures.”

Greyhound Canada’s decision is a blow to rural and remote areas that rely on a patchwork of private intercity bus companies for transportation.

The service has long been part of a network linking smaller communities and big cities, offering an affordable and convenient mode of travel for everyone from essential workers and students to the elderly and backpackers.