Flin Flon-Winnipeg bus route up in the air

Bus service is coming to Flin Flon, but whether that will include a direct passenger route to Winnipeg is still unknown.

Thompson-based Thompson Bus announced on Oct. 3 that it would pick up freight transport service to Flin Flon, Snow Lake and The Pas as early as Oct. 10, with plans to add passenger transport with a full 52-seat bus along the same route in early 2019.

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The route announced by the company will run from Thompson to a stop south Snow Lake at the Highway 39 and Highway 392 junction, south to The Pas, then north to Flin Flon and back to Thompson.

“What we’re doing is we’re starting with freight [this] week – after the freight, we’re going to be looking at adding passengers. We’re just trying to find out the amount of drivers we need and all that to be able to offer passengers as well,” said Shawna Lounsbury with Thompson Bus.

“We’re just trying to get everything off without any problems now, then we’re going to add Flin Flon, The Pas and Snow Lake.”

Thompson Bus had originally planned to add services in Flin Flon, but not before spring 2019 – months after Greyhound’s Oct. 31 date to end almost all passenger and freight non-charter bus service in western Canada.

Three separate companies – Maple Bus Lines, Thompson Bus and Ontario-based Kasper Transportation – have pledged to begin passenger bus service in northern Manitoba this fall. Out of the three, only Thompson Bus has publicly announced intentions to offer service for Flin Flon.

Thompson Bus will not offer a direct Flin Flon-Winnipeg route – once the route has been established for passenger transit, Flin Flon travellers will have to go to Thompson before switching buses and heading to Winnipeg on a different route. For a traveller hoping to go from Flin Flon to Winnipeg on a bus, heading to Thompson adds another 300 kilometres to the trip, based on the previous Flin Flon-Winnipeg route.

Meanwhile, Maple Bus Lines, a Winnipeg-based transport company, announced on Sept. 27 that it would start passenger bus service between Thompson and Winnipeg. Two bus routes to and from Thompson and the provincial capital will be offered by the company, with one passing through Grand Rapids on Highway 6 and the other going through The Pas on Highways 10 and 60.

According to Maisie Hicks, Maple Bus Lines general manager, the second route will include stops at the Highway 10 and Highway 39 junction,commonly referred to as Fidler’s Corner, and in The Pas.

“We’re looking to get the service going and make sure that we’ve got that part of the community. If we don’t have that piece from Flin Flon to Fidler’s working yet, people may still be able to get a ride to that location,” said Hicks.

“We are trying our best to make it all work so we can have at least some kind of service before Greyhound pulls out.”

While the second route will bring vehicles within 70 kilometres of Flin Flon at the Highway 10 and Highway 39 junction, Hicks said the company does not plan to extend bus transit to Flin Flon.

“Right at this moment, service is not included to Flin Flon,” she said, adding that research done by the company has shown a smaller than expected number of regular bus travellers

“Could we see going to Flin Flon in the future? Maybe, but the amount of people who are on the bus on a daily basis, from The Pas to Flin Flon, is very little.”

Hicks also added that the company is looking into whether any group based in Flin Flon would be open to doing van transport for people in need of medical transport.

“There are a few people coming from Flin Flon, but there aren’t enough to have a full motorcoach come down all the way to Flin Flon. That’s where we’re at,” she said.

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