- Luxury interprovincial bus service Greyhound is returning to South African roads after a year since its last trip.
- Under its previous owners, the bus brand struggled with declining revenue, and the pandemic subsequently exacerbated its problems.
- Now it is back under new management with a 70-bus-strong fleet.
- Its first trip is scheduled for 13 April.
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Just over a year since luxury liner Greyhound made its last trips across South African cities, the bus company is back on the road with its first trips scheduled for 13 April.
The intercity bus service will return with new routes and some enhancements, Leslie Matthews, spokesperson at Greyhound Coach Lines told Business Insider South.
"It's always been a premium service, and we'll enhance it. We're starting to launch our first route on the 13 April already, and as we start to, we have no doubt whatsoever, we're fully confident that numbers are going to return immediately," Matthews said.
"Then we're going to start planning new routes that have never been used before, we've really conducted research into that," Matthews said.
The new routes all depart from Johannesburg:
Johannesburg to Pretoria to Polokwane
Johannesburg to Mosselbay (via Bloemfontein)
Johannesburg to Mthatha (via Pietermaritzburg)
Johannesburg to Mthatha (via Matatiele)
Johannesburg to Pretoria to Komatipoort
Johannesburg to Phalaborwa
Johannesburg to Gqeberha (via Craddock)
The company plans to roll out more routes in the future.
The new owners, a private investment entity not named, have grown the fleet size to 70 buses, excluding trailers. Unitrans planned to sell off Greyhound and Citiliner assets, 66 busses with trailers and spares, through an auction, but ended up selling it through a commercial agreement to the new owners.
"Initially there were going to be two separate auctions with no reserved bidding price on it, but as discussions and negotiations took place, there was no auction at the end of the day, a proper commercial agreement was reached and we purchased the business from Unitrans," Matthews said.
The demise of the bus service, which ferried millions between South African cities and provinces since 1984, was an emotional one for many who relied on it for years for long-haul travel. It came following years of declining revenue under its previous owners, Unitrans, a subsidiary of KAP Industrial Holdings.
It also battled to keep abreast with low-cost competitors in the bus passenger industry, which led to its owners announcing its plans to dump it in 2020, the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. The pandemic was the last straw for the bus brand.
At the time, the company said it wanted to focus on its core competencies, which was not a consumer-facing passenger bus service.
Speaking at the relaunch of Greyhound, deputy minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga said Greyhound's absence created a vacuum in the luxury transport coaches.
"As the transport sector and the nation at large, we heartily welcome back the return of this brand of luxury coach line," she said.
"Greyhound will continue to provide a reliable and safe transport to more than one million passengers per annum, crossing over 20 million kilometers, thus assisting the department of transport in the provision of integrated public transport solutions," Chikunga said.