Third bus line to compete to fill void left by Greyhound in northern Manitoba
Maple Bus Lines latest company to announce it’s planning a route from Thompson to Winnipeg
People who were left in the lurch in northern Manitoba after Greyhound decided it was the end of the line for bus service on the Prairies will soon have a new way to get around.
Maple Bus Lines is promising to offer round-trip bus service from Thompson to Winnipeg next month.
It'll also have service from Cross Lake to Thompson and plans to have service between The Pas and Winnipeg next year.
The company's general manager Maisie Hicks said the company, which was previously based in Swan River with just two buses, made the decision to expand about three days after Greyhound announced in July it was cancelling service effective Oct. 31 in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia, except for a single route between Vancouver and Seattle.
The company is also cutting its only Northern Ontario route, which linked a number of smaller communities between Winnipeg and Sudbury, Ont. Hicks said Greyhound created a business potential when it cancelled the routes.
"We have good investors who see the potential that this can become profitable so we've had a lot of financial backing from private investors."
She said the company kept quiet about its plans until they had all their ducks in a row, which involved getting three bus depots in Selkirk, Thompson and Winnipeg, where it will be based.
The Selkirk location will be used to service the buses only.
One-way trip will cost $130
Hicks said a one-way trip from Thompson to Winnipeg will cost a rider $130 with tax included.
"We wanted to make it an easy amount so that if someone was going to just pay the driver or have a flag stop it was an even number, no change or anything like that, so it's very simple and easy for everybody."
Hicks thinks the new service will be a relief for folks in northern Manitoba who rely on bus service to get to Winnipeg.
"They will be very happy to have this there and they're going to love our equipment, they're going to love our staff."
Her company is the third to step in and offer service since Greyhound announced it was ending service in Manitoba. Thompson Bus told CBC Thursday night it would start trips next Wednesday from Thompson to Cross Lake and from Thompson to Winnipeg on Oct. 15.
"I'm excited that this is happening," said Shawna Lounsbury, the company's terminal manager in Thompson.
"There's so many people that need transportation."
Kasper Transportation CEO Kasper Wabinski is also gearing up to offer service from Thompson to Winnipeg. "For us, this is just a strategic move that's been put out there and you have to take the chance and the opportunity," he said in a phone interview from Thunder Bay.
He'll be doing day trips only for safety reasons and said while he thinks he can make a good buck from the new business venture, he anticipates business may be slow at first.
"The biggest thing for me is that we're focused on safety and that's why we choose to operate our service in daytime."
With files from Sam Samson