'Welcome back': After 19 months, Greyhound buses to resume between Canada and the U.S.
MONTREAL -- You know it's been a very long pandemic when the thought of waiting for a connection in the Albany bus terminal sparks a celebration.
But many Montrealers will be celebrating when they hear that after 19 months, Greyhound Canada has announced it will be resuming service across the border in just two weeks.
Nov. 8 is when the U.S.-Canada land border will finally open to Canadians driving south, as long as they're fully vaccinated.
Greyhound said in an email to subscribing customers on Monday that it's ready to resume service the same day.
"Welcome back to the United States," said the email's subject line. "We're ready to reconnect."
The busy Montreal-New York bus route isn't the only one restarting, with several trips a day, along with what appears to be a single bus leaving each morning from Montreal to Boston.
Greyhound will also be offering service over the border from Toronto (three trips a day) and Vancouver (two trips a day), both also starting Nov. 8.
Bookings opened immediately after the announcement, and at least a few buses appeared to sell out, with only three departure times left by Monday night for the first day of travel.
Greyhound even suggested a few reasons Canadians might want to cross the border, in case they'd forgotten: "Reconnect with friends, enjoy the upcoming holidays with family or even plan your trip to warmer weather this winter," the company suggested.
While Greyhound Canada permanently closed all of its routes within Canada this spring, three years after ceasing service in Western Canada in 2018, it said the company would continue to exist and only to offer Canada-U.S. routes.
19 MONTHS OF LOGISTICAL HURDLES
Many won't need that kind of reminder. The restarting of cross-border buses will be a dramatic change for many people separated from loved ones since March 2020.
Canadians have been able to fly south the entire time, but not all can afford that option, nor do their friends and family all live in American areas easily accessible by air.
Americans, meanwhile, have been able to cross the border northwards since August, but only if they have access to a car. Cross-border or one-way car rentals can be very hard to find and prohibitively expensive.
It's been even harder than that, however. Those willing to piece together a more complicated journey, such as getting a cab the final short distance and crossing on foot, have also been stymied, public transportation to areas near the border also disappeared in the pandemic, at least near Montreal.
For example, amid global self-isolation and with the loss of its Canadian customers, in spring 2020 Amtrak decided to truncate the New York-Montreal train line to end service at Albany, about half the distance of the past route.
Greyhound also stopped serving upstate New York along its former Montreal-bound route.
Monday's news means that the entire cross-border area around Montreal and upstate New York will now be reconnected for the first time in two years, therefore, as well as bringing back one of the most popular links between New York City and Montreal.
Buses did continue in the pandemic within the U.S. to Buffalo, the closest American destination to Toronto, and to Seattle, the closest city to Vancouver.
Amtrak said in a statement that it is working with federal agencies to resume three services: Amtrak Cascades to Vancouver, B.C., Amtrak Maple Leaf to Toronto and Amtrak Adirondack to Montreal.
The company said it hopes to resume passenger rail service "a short time after the borders reopen and will announce at a later date when services will be restored."