After strikes and uncertainty, Acadian Lines is gone for good and Maritime Bus is here to stay. The new inter-city bus system took over Dec. 1 and has all the same routes as Acadian Lines, but with more runs everyday.
Mike Cassidy, the owner of Maritime Bus, wants to find a terminal in downtown Fredericton like there was in previous years because he’s heard the terminal is too far out of town. For now, the terminal is where Acadian Lines was on Woodside Lane.
He’s also increased the frequency of routes to give customers more options. There are now four different times you can leave Fredericton for Moncton, and then transfer to other destinations.
“[Before Maritime Bus] you never had 7:30, 8 o’clock in the morning, a bus leaving Fredericton going to Moncton. You never had a bus from Moncton around 10:30 coming back to Fredericton. You never had a bus at 3 o’clock in the afternoon coming in from Moncton.”
Cassidy says he wants to create incentives for Fredericton students to use the bus.
“I’m really hoping for St. Thomas and UNB to do curbside pickup and drop-off. I have to get into Fredericton. I have to look for the proper locations but I am really trying for St. Thomas and UNB you do not have to go to a terminal [...] the bus is going to come to you,” Mike Cassidy said.
Cassidy says he decided to take over the inter-city bus system because he thought if the bus system stopped, it would never come back. He’s also hoping to make it more affordable.
“I’ve kept the same rates as Acadian Lines and in the first year I have been approved that I am allowed to provide price incentives, advertising promotions, and seat sales. So hopefully our customers in 2013 will actually see a decrease in prices if they take advantage of my value packaging or value pricing.”
Sean McBrine worked with Acadian Lines for 23 years as a customer service agent. He has been hired on by Maritime Bus, along with the other two employees at the Fredericton terminal.
“I just like the job. The wages are great. The people are great,” McBrine said.
But not everyone is keeping their job. Cassidy has his own drivers from Trius Tours.
“My drivers that are with me and my charter and my equipment that I have for my charter buses that are busy in the summer seasons, we’re using that equipment to be able to provide the service to make sure there is no disruption in service.”
He says he will still be hiring from December to March.
“I’m not really sure how many of our drivers are staying. For now, it’s not a whole lot because they already have their own drivers,” McBrine said.
McBrine says a lot of people didn’t apply because many of the drivers were close to retirement age.“They have their hands full, we all do. It’s overwhelming all the stuff we have to do to get ready, but it’s coming.”