Calgary to North Bay on 1 bus ticket: company has post-Greyhound vision

Greyhound to stop servicing cross-country routes as of October 31

A software company hopes it can help fill the void left by Greyhound in western Canada, by making it easier for bus passengers to find connecting schedules and tickets online.When Greyhound service is cancelled, passengers will be left with a patchwork service of regional bus carriers, that don’t always connect, and don’t have one continuous fare.

Tal Shalit, the CEO of Betterez, said his company is close to building an online network of carriers — a resource aimed at helping passengers plan and book a smooth trip across the country. Passengers wouldn’t use the service directly, but it would allow carriers to communicate and work together for optimal scheduling.

Shalit recalls trying to get across Canada from North Bay. The ticket agent used what’s known as the Russell’s Guide, a catalogue of sorts, to plan a route across the country. That guide, which looks like a small town phonebook, has been in use for over a century, and is still available today.

Tal Shalit, the CEO of Betterez, says his company can help streamline routes and fares for bus passengers as Greyhound pulls its service out of Western Canada. (Twitter.com)

“They went through about a couple hundred pages of every bus schedule across the country,” he said, “and manually told you how to connect from North Bay out to Calgary by getting on this operator, waiting six hours, getting on this operator.”

Shalit said his company can help solve the issue of passengers having to wait for hours for connections, or, having to pay a fare every time they change carriers.

However, he said, the industry needs some encouragement to get moving.

“First of all, it has to start off with the operators out there, but there’s also a big role for the government to help coordinate everything, and funding some of those things.”

A photo of the back and front covers of the Russell’s Guides timetable for motorcoach operations, which includes all of the intercity and regional bus schedules in Canada. The book has been the way ticket agents could determine how to route passengers on different carriers across the country. (russellsguides.com)

Shalit said at the moment, passengers will be unable to make decent connections with the current transportation system.

“There’s different kinds of stuck. People are not travelling because they can’t figure out how to get from A to B. People end up having to stay overnight, at hotels because they either miss their connection or there’s not enough frequency.”

Shalit said at the minimum, he wants transportation companies, including rail, ground and air to have open-source data, meaning competitors can access routes and fares to make trips more seamless for customers.

He said while the focus is currently on passengers, the same type of system could be used for parcels, which were also a major service Greyhound provided to small communities.

For the full CBC article, go here

Testimonial

When we bought the company, ticketing was a manual process. We had books to keep track of passengers and availability and paper everywhere. We tried to have custom reservation platform built and it was an expensive lesson that did not even get off the ground. I got introduced to Betterez and had several conversations with their reps. I could not believe how much time these guys dedicated to me and my little company. Still, to this day, they both take a personal interest in what is going on and how we are making out with the program.

SCOTT WARK  •  Grey Bruce Airbus

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