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Greyhound and Citiliner return to roads before Easter

The two bus lines closed down in February 2021 due to Covid-19

Greyhound is returning to SA's roads just in time for Easter. File photo.
Greyhound is returning to SA's roads just in time for Easter. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images

Greyhound and Citiliner buses, which stopped operating in February 2021 due to Covid-19, will be back on the roads on April 13 before Easter after the company’s relaunch in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Luxury coach operator Greyhound and Citiliner, the semi-luxury division of Greyhound, were put up for auction by former owner KAP Industrial after operating at a loss for a number of years, resulting in about 4,000 people losing their jobs.

The passenger bus lines’ financial woes were worsened by reduced travel due to Covid-19 restrictions, the closure of borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe and the restriction of bus occupancy numbers.

The bus sector employs about 35,000 people and contributes R5bn a year to the economy.

Speaking at the relaunch, deputy transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga said it was a “bitter pill to swallow” when Greyhound, which was established in 1984, ceased operations last year. “We couldn’t imagine our roads without Greyhound,” she said.

“We welcome the return of this luxury coach line. Transport has been identified by economic policy pronouncement as fundamental, it’s the heartbeat of SA’s economic growth and social development.”

Intercity bus services were becoming the fastest-growing mode of transportation due to competitive pricing.

With the easing of the lockdown restrictions and the ending of the national state of disaster, intercity bus services were gradually recovering and the relaunch confirmed that.

However, increasing costs of fuel, labour and vehicle maintenance, among others, could force operators to cut corners in control costs.

“Such shortcuts have dire consequences as far as road safety is concerned,” Chikunga said, pleading with operators to comply with regulations.

The relaunch of Greyhound and Citiliner bus lines would contribute to the growth of the tourism sector, which accounts for an estimated 8.6% of GDP and supports about 1.5-million jobs.

We know about the erratic fuel price increases, we are not going to let that stop us from giving people affordable and luxury transport
Greyhound spokesperson Leslie Matthews

Greyhound spokesperson Leslie Matthews told Business Day the opportunities for employment were “in excess of 200 people, immediately”.

“The new owners are a private investment entity, level 1 BEE, owned by a family trust. They want to be in the background. They are not egotistical people, which I think is refreshing in SA,” Matthews said.

“The most important thing for them is to get these buses on the road and people employed again. On behalf of the new investors and owners, we are humbled that we can contribute, in some small way, to employment of people in SA.

“We know about the erratic fuel price increases, we are not going to let that stop us from giving people affordable and luxury transport. We will look at other cost containment measures.”

Ekurhuleni’s member of the mayoral committee for transport, Alco Ngobese, said: “I’m impressed with how you have quickly bounced back after closing the business last year. It’s not going to be easy, but the hard work has already been done because Greyhound is a household name.

“Transport is the backbone of our economy in this country. That’s why, as the metro, we support the relaunch. It will drive economic recovery and connect people.”

Buyile Matiwane, deputy president of the ANC-aligned SA Student Congress (Sasco), said: “We are overjoyed at the relaunch of the bus service. We encourage you to continue with the discounts for students.”

BusinessLIVE


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