Short deadline made providing city with detailed transit operation proposals a challenge

Proposals to operate the transit system in Thompson – which is currently without city bus service at least until Nov. 13 – may not have been as detailed as the city’s ad hoc transit committee members wanted because interested service providers had only a week to review the requirements and make a submission.

Two proposals for the provision of transit services were received but the ad hoc committee reviewing the proposals wanted further details and clarification of the submitted information before entering into a long-term contract, said an Oct. 26 City of Thompson press release.

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"Transit is an important service for many residents in Thompson, and we didn’t make this decision lightly,” said committee chair Duncan Wong. "Still, the committee believes that this decision is necessary to ensure the long-term success of transit service in the City of Thompson.”

It was a quick turnaround,” said Jimmy Pelk of Thompson Bus, which submitted one of the two proposals received, even though the company knew it was coming at some point. “We were prepared for it. We just needed to make sense of how they wanted it presented to them.”

Kasper Wabinski of Thunder Bay, Ont.-based Kasper Transportation said the short timeframe made it impossible for him to develop a proposal.

“I didn’t bid,” Wabinsky said. “I backed out. I said, ‘You guys are giving me seven days to submit a bid. How the hell am I supposed to submit a proper, intelligently put together bid in seven days?’ and I’m a guy who does this, like, every month. You’ve got to analyze your routes, you’ve got to get historical data. None of the documentations that were provided by the City of Thompson give you any cost idea for what it cost to operate those vehicles the last two years. Nothing. Zero.”

Thompson Bus is well-positioned to operate the service if they are awarded the contract, Pelk says.

“We’re working with the bus drivers that drove city buses,” he said. “We’ve hired the mechanical contractor that the city’s used for the last two or three years. We’ve hired the mechanics from Greyhound that worked on the buses so we’re in great shape to provide the service.”

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) said in an Oct. 31 press release that the fact that Thompson will be without transit services for at least two weeks is a result of relying on private companies to operate buses and of the provincial government not funding transit as much as it should.

“We're calling on the provincial government to restore the 50/50 funding agreement and to work with the City of Thompson to establish a municipal public transit system for workers, families and seniors," said ATU Canada president John DiNino the day the last city bus for now ran in Thompson. "The province should be working with the federal government through the Low Carbon Economy Leadership fund to expand both municipal and intercity public transit service, not fighting each other while riders are left waiting."

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