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Iconic Gray Line Shuts Down

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Uploaded on Apr 7, 2011

VICTORIA - It's the end of the line for 35 Gray Line West employees, who said their goodbyes Thursday after being told they're out of a job. The news hit Cal Nicolson pretty hard - he's been with the company since the summer of 1974. "This to me is one of the saddest days of my life. It's really emotional to see all these people out of work for no reason."

The drivers, mechanics, and office staff laid off join 48 others who were let go a month ago, and many have no sympathy for Gray Line's owner Armstrong Group, who many accuse of taking a profitable operation and running it into the ground. "They could've made a profit if they wanted to, but if you ignore the business and run it like a lemonade stand, it's going to perform like one" says CAW Union representative Stu Shields.

Management says Gray Line is financially challenged and a buyer couldn't be found to takeover the business. Instead three operators will divide up the Gray Line assets, including the famous double-decker buses and sightseeing coaches.

The major purchaser is Transportation Management Services based in Maryland. The company operates Horizon Coach Lines in Vancouver, Seattle, Miami, San Diego, and has a small office in Victoria. But now, after buying up a portion of the Gray Line fleet, TMS has big plans to serve cruise ship passengers in the capital.

Horizon expects to hire 30-40 new employees in Victoria, but isn't sure if it will be keep using the Gray Line name on the double-decker buses, or for sightseeing tours to Butchart Gardens.

Former Gray Line staff are welcome to join the public at an upcoming job fair for the positions opening up at Horizon. Open interviews are being held at Ogden Point Friday between 11:30am - 2pm, 4:30pm - 7pm, and Saturday between 10am and 2pm.

Follow Andrew Johnson on Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/ANewsAndrew

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