Thompson group exploring northern bus service

A company based in northern Manitoba hopes to fill the void left by Greyhound once it shuts down Manitoba service in October.

Thompson Bus, headed by a pair of businessmen based in Thompson, aims to maintain passenger bus service to and from Thompson and to expand to serve the rest of the north.

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“The goal is to bring in The Pas and Flin Flon, with a route back to Thompson,” said Jimmy Pelk, one of the group’s founders.

The group was formally announced on July 19 at an event at Thompson City Hall.

Currently, Greyhound plans to end service on almost all routes in western Canada on Oct. 31.

Pelk said the company is working with the provincial government to continue service after the closure, first along Highway 6 from Thompson to Winnipeg, then expanding to other communities.

“There’s a lot of stuff. They [the provincial government] want to get the Highway 6 route planned, organized and put away, then we’ll work on the other northern routes,” he said.

One hurdle has already been encountered by the group – a fire at the service station at Ponton. A frequent stop for travellers heading north at the junction of Highway 39 and Highway 6, Pelk said Thompson Bus planned to use the station as a bus stop. He said the group can still use the parking lot at the site as a gathering point.

“It definitely changes the plan a little. That was going to be a stop,” said Pelk.

“The parking lot is still available for a meeting point. For passengers, it isn’t going to be as comfortable, unfortunately. It might change it, but the parking lot is still there.”

Another company, northern Ontario-based Kasper Transportation, has also floated the idea of restoring bus service to northern Manitoba.

In a report released by the Angus Reid Institute on July 27, 60 per cent of Canadians polled said they would support a rural bus service funded by the federal government, with 64 per cent stating they would support a provincially funded service.

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