DALLAS — Greyhound Lines Inc. will stop bus service to many small towns between Chicago and Seattle — including 14 in Montana — to cut costs and focus on its most profitable routes.
The company announced Friday that it would close 260 stops, leaving 99 in its 13-state northern region effective Aug. 18.
Greyhound will make similar changes in other regions of the country over the next two to three years, said chief executive Stephen E. Gorman.
Gorman said Greyhound would also shift some service from long trips to routes of 450 miles or less, which account for about three-fourths of its customers. He said customers would see more frequent service on peak daytime and weekend times on those shorter routes.
The changes will result in about 150 layoffs and the elimination of about 100 buses from the company's fleet, Gorman said.
Gorman declined to say how much the company expected to save.
The cutbacks will affect service in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Isolated routes in a few other states will also be affected, Greyhound said.
Most of the cities that will lose service are small or isolated — or both.
In Gold Beach, Ore., delicatessen owner Elizabeth Kuljis said the closure would inconvenience a small number of local residents, including one of her employees — a single mother who traveled on Greyhound several times a year.
Kuljis said she approached Greyhound about using her store, right on U.S. 101, as a station but got no response.
‘‘Obviously they didn't think it was worth their while to keep a station here,'' she said.
The changes were in the works for nearly a year. Greyhound tried to stabilize its business by increasing prices on longer trips, canceling an order for 200 buses, and cutting about 20 percent of its management and supervisory employees.
Dallas-based Greyhound cut its losses last year to $29 million from $112 million in 2002 even with a decline in revenue. In January through March, traditionally the weakest months for travel, the company said its operating loss was $15 million, down from a $22 million loss a year earlier.
While vast in area, the northern region accounts for only about 10 percent of the company's business.
About half the stations to be closed had no outbound traffic last year, said company spokeswoman Lynn Brown. She said about 80 percent of the company's customers in the region will still have Greyhound service in their town.
Of the 99 remaining stations, 75 will be in town of less than 100,000 people, the company said.
Greyhound has been struggling to hold on to its customers of modest means for several years.
‘‘Starting in the summer of 2001, Greyhound started seeing a decline, particularly in the long haul,'' Gorman said. ‘‘That decline accelerated after Sept. 11 (2001), and we needed to cut overhead.''
The downturn in travel coincided with a dramatic increase in insurance and security costs for airlines, train and bus lines, adding to Greyhound's troubles. Routes that had been profitable became money-losers.
Greyhound is a subsidiary of Naperville, Ill.-based Laidlaw International Inc.
States affected by dropped service
By The Associated Press
Greyhound Lines Inc. says it will stop bus service on Aug. 18 to the following towns:
Berthoud Pass, Brush, Burlington, Craig, Dinosaur, Fraser, Fort Morgan, Granby, Hayden, Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, Sterling, Winter Park.
Anita, Dubuque, Dyersville, Newton, Onawa, Shenandoah, Sioux Center, Sioux City, Tama Toledo, Walcott.
Blackfoot, Bliss, Dubois, Idaho Falls, Kellogg, McCammon, Mullan, Pocatello, Rexburg, Rupert, Wallace.
Anoka, Atwater, Bagley, Bemidji, Big Lake, Bloomington, Brainerd, Canyon, Cass Lake, Clara City, Cloquet, Cottonwood, Crookston, Dassel, Detroit Lakes, Erskine, Eveleth, Forest Lake, Fosston, Four Corners, Frazee, Granite Falls, Hackensack, Hamel, Hinckley, Hutchinson, Independence, Le Sueur, Litchfield, Little Falls, Luverne, Madelia, Mankato, Marshall, Melrose, Moose Lake, Mountain Lake, Nisswa, North Branch, Perham, Pine City, Pine River, Pipestone, Ruthton, Sandstone, Sauk Centre, Shakopee, St. James, St. Louis Park, St. Peter, Twig, Wadena, Walker, Willmar, Windom, Worthington.
Big Timber, Deer Lodge, Dillon, Drummond, Forsyth, Glendive, Laurel, Lima, Miles City, St. Regis, Three Forks, Warmsprings, Whitehall, Wibaux.
Beach, Bismarck, Dickinson, Grand Forks, Hillsboro, Jamestown, Medora, Richardton, Steele, Sterling, Valley City.
Cozad, Grand Island, Kearney, Kimball, Lexington, North Platte, Ogallala, Sidney, York.
Albany, Arlington, Ashland, Bandon, Bend, Biggs, Boardman, Brightwood, Brookings, Canyonville, Chemult, Coos Bay, Cottage Grove, Florence, Gold Beach, Government Camp, Klamath Falls, La Pine, Lincoln City, Madras, McMinnville, Newberg, Newport, North Bend, Port Orford, Redmond, Reedsport, Rhododendron, Sandy, Sheridan, Troutdale, Waldport, Warm Springs, Wemme, Zigzag.
Beresford, Sioux Falls, Vermillion.
Duchesne, Echo, Heber City, Logan, Myton, Park City, Roosevelt, Vernal.
Blaine, Camas, Castle Rock, Cle Elum, Connell, Fort Lewis, George, Goldendale, Grandview, Lyle, North Bend, North Bonneville, Prosser, Richland, Ritzville, Skamania, Snoqualmie Pass, Toppenish, Walla Walla, Wapato, Washougal.
Abbotsford, Aniwa, Antigo, Baldwin Junction, Beaver Dam, Birnamwood, Black Earth, Black River Falls, Bonduel, Columbus, Coon Valley, Cross Plains, Delafield, Elcho, Fremont, Germantown, Hudson, Janesville, Lake Tomahawk, Lone Rock, Mauston, Mazomanie, Menomonie, Minocqua, Monico, Osseo, Pelican Lake, Portage, Readstown, Rhinelander, Richland Center, Shawano, Spring Green, Stanley, Stevens Point, Summit Lake, Sun Prairie, Viroqua, Waupaca, Waupun, Wausau, Westby, Wittenberg.