End of an era for Acadian Lines bus service
Published Friday, November 30, 2012 6:31PM AST
Last Updated Friday, November 30, 2012 6:32PM AST
Friday marked the end of an era at bus stations across the Maritimes.
After decades on the road, Acadian Lines is completing its final runs between Maritime communities – a service that ends Friday at midnight.
“It’s been a good run and I was fortunate to have a lot of good people I worked with and a lot of good passengers,’ said bus driver Freddie Benner in Saint John Friday. “It means a lot.”
Acadian Lines has been one of the most recognizable names in the Maritimes.
There have been buses displaying that name on Maritime highways dating back to 1947 – almost the beginning of intercity bus service in the region.
K.C. Irving started the SMT intercity service in 1937. The Irving family took over service in 1995, but they got out of the business in 2004 and sold Acadian Lines to Orleans Express.
The company shut down today.
Meanwhile, observers say public transportation has been changing in the region, and not necessarily for the better.
“With the withdrawal of public subsidies, again you’re left with market forces, and market forces are pretty crude and they tend to ignore those that are marginalized and those that are vulnerable,” says Randy Hatfield of Saint John’s Human Development Council.
“When I was younger, in my teens, it used to be SMT,” says bus user Jason Scott. “We used to take the bus many, many times.”
Scott is upset that many Acadian Lines employees will be out of work tomorrow.
“I just feel really bad for them all, I really do.”
While it’s the end of the road for many Acadian Lines bus drivers, it’s not the end of service for passengers.
Maritime Bus, a new bus line, hits the road tomorrow and the owner of the company says they are ready to take over.
The routes will cover many of the places previously served by Acadian Lines, though some Maritime communities will not be on regular routes.
As for Benner, he says he was offered a job at Maritime Bus, but after 40 years of driving a bus, he feels today is a good day to call it a career.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron