Immediately following Greyhound Canada’s bombshell announcement that they will be closing virtually all Western Canada bus operations as of Oct. 31, an Ontario company says it will begin running more buses to and from Winnipeg, including one to Thompson.
On July 9, Kasper Transportation announced on Facebook that they will be establishing a new route that runs from Winnipeg to Thompson on the exact same day that Greyhound is shutting down their services across the Prairies.
While concrete details surrounding this new route are scarce, Kasper Transportation CEO Kasper Wabinski told the Thompson Citizen July 10 that he is going to tailor this new service to the specific needs of local residents.
“I’m going to try to mimic what people are used to,” he said. “I’m going to try to talk to people locally and see what they want and see if the existing system was good. If not, we’ll change it a little bit.”
Right now, Wabinski is estimating that a one-way ticket for this route will probably cost around $125, which is about the same price that Greyhound charges right now.
However, the CEO said he will probably be utilizing slightly smaller 25−35 seat buses for the purposes of this trip, rather than the full-sized motor coaches that Greyhound currently deploys.
Even though a lot of this information could be subject to change, Wabinski isn’t counting out the possibility of setting up shop in other Manitoba communities that will be without bus services as of Oct. 31.
“We have to be somewhat strategic of how to do it, but obviously routes in Brandon, Flin Flon, The Pas, Dauphin have kept Greyhound alive for a long time. And maybe they were not enough for them, but I feel like they’re enough for us.”
Wabinski also said he is open to the possibility of rehiring northern Greyhound employees who will be losing their jobs in the fall.
“We currently employ ex-Greyhound drivers that have retired and we’re always looking for quality staff that knows what’s going on,” he said. “We’re going to need people to manage this new route. I’ll try to open the doors for as many people as I can.”
Kasper Transportation was founded in 2015 and has been providing regular bus services, parcel delivery and medical transportation throughout northwestern Ontario in the intervening three years.
“The word was on the street a long time ago was they’ve been threatening to pull out for years now,” said Wabinski. “So if they ever decide to pull out [we thought] ‘Let’s do it. Let’s get in there.’ That’s a no brainer, right?”
Kasper Transportation’s July 9 Facebook post also claims that the company will be taking over other Greyhound routes throughout Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, including a direct route between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay and a direct route from Winnipeg to Regina and then on to Saskatoon to Prince Albert.
Moving forward, Wabinski believes that Kasper Transportation has a better chance of succeeding where Greyhound failed, since the people behind this company are young, ambitious and keen on improving customer satisfaction.
“I think that when a company gets too big and the original founders disappear, I guess the spirit of the company dies,” he said. “With that comes a lot of poor decision-making, and decision-making that could potentially be personally driven by promotion bonuses and other aspects.”
In the meantime, Wabinski is calling on the people of Thompson to provide his company with feedback on how to make this transition as smooth as possible.
“If there are local people that want to work with us, help us, work together, join us, we’re always open to do that,” he said. “We want to talk to local communities and the municipalities, we want to build the network. We want to build our connections.”