Jump to content




Photo

Empire Builder connection to Calgary


18 replies to this topic

#1 companyofheroes

companyofheroes

    Train Attendant

  • Newbie
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 21 October 2010 - 12:50 PM

What ever happened to a connection from the Empire Builder stop in Shelby, Montana north to Lethbridge and Calgary, Alberta? This seems like something that would be beneficial to get people to their Rocky Mountaineer as well as connect a moderate-sized city (Lethbridge) and a metropolitan area (Calgary) to the Builder.

Greyhound doesn't seem to run through Shelby anymore. Any thoughts?

#2 EB_OBS

EB_OBS

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,013 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Spokane, WA
  • Interests:Family, PC games, outdoors, and working for Amtrak.

Posted 21 October 2010 - 01:08 PM

Charter buses bring passengers to and from the Empire Builder, at Shelby, quite regularly. I don't believe there is any routinely scheduled service though.

Edited by EB_OBS, 21 October 2010 - 01:09 PM.


#3 jis

jis

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,828 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Space Coast, Florida
  • Interests:Trains, Planes and Travel

Posted 21 October 2010 - 07:32 PM

A long time back, like in 1979 there used to be an outfit called Intermountain Lines which used to accept Greyhound Ameripass, and used to run a service Helena - Great Falls - Shelby - Lethbridge - Calgary. I rode the Great Falls - Shelby leg to change to another Intermountain Lines service from Shelby to Belton and on to Kalispell. I am sure none of that exists anymore.

#4 Montanan

Montanan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bozeman, Montana

Posted 21 October 2010 - 08:17 PM

Yep, a Montana-based company called Intermountain Lines used to run a daily bus along Interstate 15, from Butte north through Great Falls and Shelby to Sweetgrass, at the Canadian line. There, the schedule connected with one operated by Greyhound Lines of Canada that continued north to Lethbridge and Calgary. At least for part of the line's history, connections were available at Shelby to/from Empire Builder service to the west.

Intermountain Lines went bankrupt a decade or so ago, and its routes were taken over by a company called Rimrock Stages. Over the last several years Rimrock has discontinued most of its former routes, including all service north of Great Falls, so the international bus trip is no longer possible. A local government agency in the Shelby area now operates a service from there down to Great Falls, but it leaves Shelby in the morning before Amtrak arrives, so any connection would require an overnight layover.

There hasn't been any common-carrier bus service over Marias Pass between Cut Bank and Kalispell for many decades, and it wasn't an Intermountain route.

#5 railiner

railiner

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,220 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, NY
  • Interests:All public transportation....land, sea, and air

Posted 21 October 2010 - 10:30 PM

Ever since the bus industry deregulated, the routes have slowly dwindled away. The Official Bus Guide has shrunk from the size of a Manhattan yellow pages, to that not much thicker tnan an Amtrak system tmetable.

I don't believe you can cross the US/Canada border now by scheduled bus from Winnipeg all the way to Vancouver....quite a stretch!
metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#6 DET63

DET63

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,792 posts

Posted 22 October 2010 - 12:01 AM

After that guy got his head cut off on the Greyhound bus in Canada, who would want to hop on the Long Dog to go anywhere anymore? If you want to go anywhere anymore, ground-based mass-transportation may well eventually go the way of the horse and buggy. At least in the western U.S. and Canada, your choices are going to be drive or fly. Probably 99% of trips in the west (certainly outside of California) are made by car or plane.

#7 companyofheroes

companyofheroes

    Train Attendant

  • Newbie
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 22 October 2010 - 12:51 AM

Great info guys, thanks. I still ride the dog though, can't let an isolated incident change the way you live your life.

Too bad this route is gone, wonder if it would ever be viable to start it up again.

Seems like there's likely more than a few factors contributing to intercity bus decline. Factor one might be the ever-increasing urbanization of society, factor two the perception of security on busses. That being said, major cities have grown drastically, and ridership on the Empire Builder is growing too. There must be a tipping point at which a balance is achieved and the route will make business sense.

#8 jis

jis

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,828 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Space Coast, Florida
  • Interests:Trains, Planes and Travel

Posted 22 October 2010 - 06:49 AM

There hasn't been any common-carrier bus service over Marias Pass between Cut Bank and Kalispell for many decades, and it wasn't an Intermountain route.

Admittedly my memory is hazy from 30 years back. It was some common carrier service that I took from Shelby to Kalispell across Marias Pass. Clearly I don't recall what the name of the carrier was correctly. Well coming to think of it, actually I took a bus to East Glacier, and then again a bus from Belton to Kalispell. So maybe there was no through bus across Marias Pass. But then there always was and is train to take care of that part :)

#9 Montanan

Montanan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bozeman, Montana

Posted 22 October 2010 - 06:57 AM

After looking it up, I see that Intermountain Lines went under way back in 1994 ... I guess it's true that time goes by faster as you get older! :mellow:

America's intercity bus network is fading fast, at least in rural regions, collapsing much as our passenger rail network did half a century ago. Twenty years ago Great Falls was an intercity bus hub, with routes to Shelby/Sweetgrass; Havre; Missoula; two different routes to Billings; and multiple schedules to Butte. Today only a single bus to Butte remains. Bus service elsewhere in Montana has also greatly declined. It's really unfortunate, but I'll personally admit that I'll never ride an American bus again if I can help it -- bus travel in this country has gotten to be a real third-world experience, and I'm just not up for it.

This decline in rural bus service is also pretty unfortunate from an Amtrak perspective, since they provided connecting services for Amtrak passengers heading to locations that will never see an Amtrak train. But so it goes.

#10 Guest_guest_cottagelife014_*

Guest_guest_cottagelife014_*
  • Guests

Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:40 AM

At least one of the Calgary Airport shuttle services advertises international van transfer to Glacier National Park and to Amtrak stations in Montana. Here is the link: http://airportshuttl...om/waterton.htm

Decline in the rural bus network is as apparent north of the border as it is in the USA. Greyhound has no local bus services in northwestern Ontario, Manitoba or Saskatchewan, only inter-provincial runs.

Although both Greyhound USA and Greyhound Canada are owned by the same Scottish parent company (Stagecoach Group) the consensus seems to be that the cleanliness and ambiance of the ride is higher in Canada. Canadian intercity bus services do not have the same “down-and-out” image that they do in the US, especially in the South.

The decapitation incident that occurred in Manitoba a couple years ago was very unfortunate, but it was also highly atypical—the person who committed the act was certified as insane.

#11 rrdude

rrdude

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,288 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Lowly "Select" Baltimore, MD Area
  • Interests:I like riding trains, in First Class, Sleeper, or Coach. (If just a short jaunt) I expect courteous service, equipment that works, arriving close to "on time", & clean windows. Is that too much to ask for?

Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:42 AM

After that guy got his head cut off on the Greyhound bus in Canada, who would want to hop on the Long Dog to go anywhere anymore? If you want to go anywhere anymore, ground-based mass-transportation may well eventually go the way of the horse and buggy. At least in the western U.S. and Canada, your choices are going to be drive or fly. Probably 99% of trips in the west (certainly outside of California) are made by car or plane.

WOW! What a read. I missed that one. Thanks for posting.

#12 Montanan

Montanan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bozeman, Montana

Posted 22 October 2010 - 09:42 AM

Decline in the rural bus network is as apparent north of the border as it is in the USA. Greyhound has no local bus services in northwestern Ontario, Manitoba or Saskatchewan, only inter-provincial runs.


One of the interesting things about Saskatchewan is that it has a government-owned intercity bus network -- the Saskatchewan Transportation Company. It was established way back in the 1940s, presumably to counter declines in local rail service, and it serves a couple hundred communities all across the province. It's a great thing for the province, I think, especially for the many small towns there that would otherwise be completely without access to intercity transport.

#13 Montanan

Montanan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bozeman, Montana

Posted 22 October 2010 - 09:58 AM

… which leads me to wonder: why don't more American states do something like that, especially in conjunction with Amtrak? It would be a great way to support intercity travel, with far less cost and hassle that establishing new rail routes … but California is the only state that's gotten into this big-time.

Here in Montana, there's definite political (and public) interest in restoring Amtrak service on all or part of the old North Coast Hiawatha route … but of course the obstacles to that are enormous, and it's not likely to happen for a very long time. Instead, maybe what the state should do is set up an "Amtrak Montana" bus operation, similar to the one in California, providing scheduled bus service connecting with the Empire Builder, on Montana routes that are now without intercity bus service.

I imagine there would be similar opportunities in lots of other states as well. It wouldn't have the cachet of a passenger-train pipe dream, but it would be inexpensive, good for local communities, and good for Amtrak, as well.

#14 companyofheroes

companyofheroes

    Train Attendant

  • Newbie
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 22 October 2010 - 12:00 PM

Instead, maybe what the state should do is set up an "Amtrak Montana" bus operation, similar to the one in California, providing scheduled bus service connecting with the Empire Builder, on Montana routes that are now without intercity bus service.


As long as they don't do what California did and require by law each bus ticket purchase to include a train segment. I'm guessing this was in response to pressure from bus companies who thought the Amtrak busses would take their business. The bus from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe is the only exception to this rule.

Since Montana has so little bus service to begin with, maybe it would be easier politically to get such a service started. This way it would be possible for folks going shorter distances to use the busses too.

I 'm personally a huge fan of intermodal bus connections, as I ride one to the train every time I take Amtrak. I'm not a fan of the bus ticket + train ticket rule. I live in San Bernardino, and have paid for a ticket from Palm Springs to Wasco in the central valley just so I could ride from the airport in Palm Springs to San Bernardino. Greyhound service to Palm Springs might as well be non-existent, as the stop is 4 miles outside of town.

Be great for Montana to get these sorts of services, I know if the Empire Builder to Calgary connection existed I would take it for an upcoming trip. I guess I'll just fly instead.

#15 Eric S

Eric S

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,411 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Milwaukee

Posted 22 October 2010 - 12:01 PM

… which leads me to wonder: why don't more American states do something like that, especially in conjunction with Amtrak? It would be a great way to support intercity travel, with far less cost and hassle that establishing new rail routes … but California is the only state that's gotten into this big-time.

Here in Montana, there's definite political (and public) interest in restoring Amtrak service on all or part of the old North Coast Hiawatha route … but of course the obstacles to that are enormous, and it's not likely to happen for a very long time. Instead, maybe what the state should do is set up an "Amtrak Montana" bus operation, similar to the one in California, providing scheduled bus service connecting with the Empire Builder, on Montana routes that are now without intercity bus service.

I imagine there would be similar opportunities in lots of other states as well. It wouldn't have the cachet of a passenger-train pipe dream, but it would be inexpensive, good for local communities, and good for Amtrak, as well.

I believe a number of states do subsidize intercity bus routes, they just haven't set up a separate bus company to operate those routes. Michigan and Oregon subsidize a number of intercity bus routes, and I imagine other states do so as well.

#16 TransitGeek

TransitGeek

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 241 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:RIV (Riverside, CA)
  • Interests:trains, buses, transit, transportation policy & land use, politics, ham radio, linux, and cycling

Posted 03 November 2010 - 05:04 PM

Oregon has established the POINT- Public Oregon Intercity Transportation. The Southwest POINT was the first route, in the Klamath Falls/Medford/Grant's Pass/Crescent City area, but they appear to have expanded the system throughout the state.
Traveled so far: Southwest Chief #4 LAX-VRV, Coast Starlight LAX-OKJ, Capitol Corridor RIC-SAC, Pacific Surfliner BUR-SNA, San Joaquins BFD-RIC over and over again
Non-Amtrak Rail: Metrolink, LA Metro, SD Trolley, SPRINTER, San Jose VTA, BART, SF Muni Metro, Sacramento RT, Vancouver SkyTrain, DC Metro, Baltimore LRT, NYC Subway, Las Vegas Monorail, Paris Metro, Barcelona Metro, TGV Paris-Biarritz

Epic Train Trip (this summer): LAX-PDX-(VAC-VBC-SEA)-CHI-(BUF-TWO-MTR)-NYP-BOS-POR-WAS-NOL-ONA w/segments in (parenthesis) by bus/ferry.


Posted Image


If it has wheels, and I don't have to drive it, count me in!

#17 bretton88

bretton88

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 459 posts

Posted 03 November 2010 - 05:55 PM

The trailways bus companies, like Burlington Trailways, are subsidized by the states they travel through. That's why they stop at every little town along the route they travel.
Bring on Omaha-Lincoln train service!!
In my dreams, I guess.

#18 Eric S

Eric S

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,411 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Milwaukee

Posted 03 November 2010 - 07:32 PM

The trailways bus companies, like Burlington Trailways, are subsidized by the states they travel through. That's why they stop at every little town along the route they travel.

Is every Trailways route state-subsidized? Given the number of routes that cross state lines, I wonder if it is just that some are subsidized.

Edited by Eric S, 03 November 2010 - 07:34 PM.


#19 Montanan

Montanan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bozeman, Montana

Posted 03 November 2010 - 08:15 PM


The trailways bus companies, like Burlington Trailways, are subsidized by the states they travel through. That's why they stop at every little town along the route they travel.

Is every Trailways route state-subsidized? Given the number of routes that cross state lines, I wonder if it is just that some are subsidized.


A few Trailways routes may be subsidized, but the vast majority are not. "Trailways" is a brand name that is licensed by a large number of different bus operators, who have nothing in common beyond the shared, licensed name. Here in Montana, for example, Rimrock Stages licenses the Trailways brand name, and its services aren't subsidized.

There was a time when the Trailways network of individual operators, all operating with the same brand name and logo, together formed the semblance of a national system that in some areas could compete with Greyhound. That really hasn't been the case since the late 1980s, though, when Greyhound acquired Continental Trailways, which was the largest of the Trailways companies. Now the Trailways system is pretty fragmented.



Reply to this topic



  


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users