Deafening chants of ‘halala Greyhound, halala’ and ‘eita Greyhound’ echoed through the Birchwood Hotel auditorium on Wednesday morning during a ceremony to relaunch the Greyhound bus lines.
Greyhound’s bus services ceased last year due to the impact of the Covid pandemic.
The return of Southern Africa’s popular luxury bus service, which halted operations last February, was welcomed with a ceremony by Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga as “a remarkable development during Freedom Month”.
“I must say that it was a bitter pill to swallow when Greyhound, a household name, announced the halting of its operations in February 2021, as this created a vacuum in the luxury transport coaches to the South African market,” said Chikunga.
ALSO READ: Video: Here’s what put the brakes on Greyhound and Citiliner
She added: “As the transport sector and the nation at-large we heartily welcome back the return of this brand of luxury coach lines.
“Greyhound provided reliable and safe transport to more than one million passengers per annum crossing over 20 million kilometres – assisting the department of transport in the provision of integrated public transport solutions.
“In this regard, we extend a word of gratitude to the private sector in general and Greyhound Bus Coach Lines in particular, for partnering with us in providing solutions for urban mobility, growth of the economy and alternative solutions for travellers.”
Transport, said Chikunga, was “a key demand-driven input industry which has been identified by all economic policy pronouncements as fundamental”.
“It is the heartbeat of South Africa’s economic growth and social development. Public transport connects people and creates a sense of community through transit-oriented development.
“Integrated public transport networks form a part of the government’s medium-term strategic framework.
“It is important that integrated, sustainable, affordable and functional transport solutions are provided within the economic hubs of our country which are tailored to suit the needs of present and future urban commuters.
“Currently, South Africa is in a process of developing public transport networks that can be used by everyone in the country.
“These are known as integrated public transport networks, outlined in the Public Transport Strategy of 2007.
“Amongst others, these networks are created through the integration of local public transport services and linking with other long-distance services such as air, train and intercity bus coaches.
Chikunga said bus services suffered around the globe in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Globally, weak travel demands due to the pandemic left many intercity operators having to scale down their operations and others closing down.
“However, recent developments, such as the easing of Covid-19 related restrictions, provide hope that better times are on the horizon and the intercity sector is gradually recovering.
“Today’s launch confirms this fact.”