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Alberta is expanding a pilot project to ensure bus service to residents in rural areas.

Premier Rachel Notley says new routes will be set up between Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, as well as in Red Deer County.

That’s on top of existing pilot projects in and around Camrose, Grande Prairie and Spirit River.

Notley says it’s critical that citizens in more rural or remote areas are able to get around, especially given Greyhound’s recent announcement.

The bus company, citing declining ridership, says it is shutting down passenger and delivery services on the Prairies, northwestern Ontario and all but one cross-border route in British Columbia.

The government says the pilot project routes will assist about 40,000 people.

“Since Greyhound made their announcement we simply can’t leave people stranded by the road,” Notley said in Medicine Hat on Wednesday.

“Rural Albertans, and rural Alberta communities, make an enormous contribution to our province and we owe it to them to protect the transportation options that they have.”

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