Leading bus operator Greyhound and its subdivision Citiliner announced on Wednesday that it would discontinue its services — bringing an end to nearly 40 years of service.
The bus service will run until 14 February 2021, the company announced on Twitter. All trips booked after this date have been cancelled and customers will be refunded, it said.
Greyhound has not said what led to the closure decision.
Announcement: Greyhound and Citiliner are closing operations. Services will run until 14 February 2021. Passengers with tickets booked for services after this date will be refunded. For assistance with refunds, contact Call Centre: 087 352 0352 or email: [email protected] pic.twitter.com/n6kFJ0uQaO
— Greyhound (@GreyhoundRSA) February 3, 2021
Following Greyhound’s announcement, the Democratic Alliance issued a statement calling on the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula to engage with the bus service on possible ways in which the government can intervene to prevent the shutdown.
“This decision will have devastating consequences with thousands more South Africans now facing joblessness and unemployment,” DA Shadow Minister of Transport Chris Hunsinger said.
“The closure of Greyhound and Citiliner will leave a massive gap in the affordable long-distance travel sector as thousands of South Africans and those living in our neighbouring countries have for decades relied on these services.”
Hunsinger also noted the impact certain lockdown regulations — such as the closure of land borders, the banning of interprovincial travel and the curfew — must have had on the bus service.
Cosatu supported calls for the government to intervene, spokesperson Sizwe Pamla told Daily Maverick.
“The pending closure of Greyhound is a tragedy. Not only will hundreds of workers lose their jobs, but their families will be plunged into poverty and despair,” Pamla told Daily Maverick. Cosatu said it hoped the government and private sector would intervene to prevent the loss of Greyhound or that alternatives could be found for affected workers, Pamla said.
According to Pamla, the closure of Greyhound and Citiliner will create problems for migrant workers, depending on the transport service for travel, as well as affect tourism and trade with neighbouring countries.
According to the Southern African Bus Operators Association’s “Impact of Covid-19 on Bus and Coach Industry” report, released on 4 June 2020, statistics show that 80% of South Africa’s population is totally dependent on public transport — bus, coach, trains and taxis — for its mobility needs.
Greyhound was the first luxury coach operator to start a scheduled intercity bus service, in 1984, according to its website. The company’s transport network extends to all major South African cities and also offers passenger transport to Harare and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and Maputo in Mozambique.
Greyhound transports 804,293 passengers over 25 million kilometres in southern Africa, every year, its website says. Citiliner, a division of the Greyhound bus service, began operations in 2005. The semi-luxury coach transported more than 500,000 passengers annually over eight million kilometres, according to its website. DM
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