SIERRA VISTA — Greyhound has rolled out of Sierra Vista.
A decrease in ridership over the last few months courtesy of COVID-19 has prompted the country’s largest intercity bus transportation concern to pull out of Sierra Vista, city officials and Greyhound said.
“According to representatives from Greyhound, the pandemic has severely impacted ridership demand and revenues,” an executive report prepared by city staff said.
The buses, with the iconic greyhound on both sides, stopped their twice-a-day service to the municipality’s Vista Transit Center on Jan. 12.
That means individuals with no transportation who counted on the buses to take them to Benson, Tucson, Phoenix and Rio Rico will have to find other means of traveling there, city officials said. The demand was not strong enough to keep the service rolling.
In the executive report released to the City Council on Tuesday, staff stated: “This reduction resulted in Greyhound drawing down grant funds much more quickly than anticipated. In order to preserve the remaining grant funds and with an eye towards the future with vaccine distribution and the potential return of ridership demand, Greyhound made the difficult decision to end service for now. Greyhound has indicated they will continue to be active in regional transportation coordination meetings and may return in the future if demand patterns return to pre-pandemic levels.”
It’s not clear what the ridership was for Greyhound in Sierra Vista. A request to the company for information was not answered on Tuesday.
The company’s website includes a statement regarding its reduction in services because of the pandemic.
“Greyhound is temporarily reducing schedules across our network as a result of the drop in demand due to coronavirus. Unfortunately, this includes suspension of service in several cities, particularly in the Northeast."
"Because of the ongoing updates of city, state and national governmental policies intended to slow COVID-19, our most up to date schedules can be found by searching on Greyhound.com. Service will also be temporarily suspended between Tucson, Benson and Sierra Vista, AZ.”
Linda Jones, Sierra Vista’s transportation administrator, said the city will lose some money because of the bus company’s departure, to the tune of $100 a month. Jones said that was the amount Greyhound paid to use the transit center.
“We know that some area residents did rely on this service as the most affordable means of transportation available to them for traveling to cities like Tucson and beyond,” Jones said in an email Tuesday. “We hope that Greyhound will bring the route to Sierra Vista back in the future when it’s feasible to do so.”
City Councilwoman Carolyn Umphrey mentioned the issue at Tuesday’s City Council work session, also saying she hopes the buses com back soon.
The pandemic has prompted a drop in the ridership of the city’s bus system as well.
The lobby at the Vista Transit Center was recently closed except for ticket sales and the restroom, the city’s executive report shows.
“Some operational changes which were made in the early days of the pandemic remain in place, such as the 'Orange Line B' route to disperse passengers on the busiest route and keep the number of passengers on the busses below 10 at all times," the report states.
“As expected, the pandemic and the associated stay-at-home order initially resulted in a significant decrease in ridership. Numbers started to rebound during the last few months, and steady increases were recorded from July through October prior to the typical dip in November. Numbers will likely continue to trend below normal for some time, especially with some schools continuing to be closed to in-person instruction or utilizing hybrid learning models. Medical trips are also down, with many people delaying non-essential appointments.”