With a handful of meetings now under their belt, an ad hoc committee created to solve Thompson’s looming public transit crisis has consulted four transportation companies to try to figure out the best way to replace Greyhound after the company’s transit service agreement with the city expires on Oct. 31.
Committee member Penny Byer says they’ve already consulted with Thompson Bus, Kasper Transportation, Maple Bus Lines and Beaver Bus Lines.
“We only talked with them to get information to find out if there would be any limitations, depending on what we wanted to do for a service,” she said. “And what we found out from talking with those companies is that anything that we discussed as a possible service or alternative is feasible with any of these companies.”
Committee chair Duncan Wong also said they’ve consulted with representatives from Greyhound as part of the ongoing process.
Two of the companies consulted have already made it clear that they intend to step into Greyhound’s shoes after that company shuts down all but one of their inter-city bus routes throughout Western Canada on Halloween
On the same day as this bombshell revelation was made July 9, the Thunder Bay-based company known as Kasper Transportation told the Thompson Citizen that they plan on establishing a route from Winnipeg to Thompson to fill the void that Greyhound will leave behind.
On July 19, Thompson entrepreneurs Jimmy Pelk and Siddharth Varma announced their intent to create a locally owned and operated bus company called Thompson Bus.
While the company is currently providing transport services to places like Winnipeg, Gillam and Cross Lake in a limited capacity, Pelk told the Citizen Aug. 28 that they are also interested in providing public transit within Thompson city limits.
Maple Bus Lines and Beaver Bus Lines provide transportation and charter services out of Winnipeg.
Since they’ve only been meeting on a weekly basis since Aug. 20, Byer said this committee, which also includes councillors Ron Matechuk, Judy Kolada, Blake Ellis and city administrative staff, is still not even close to deciding who a contract to operate Thompson transit services might go to, if that is the route the city takes.
“It is way too soon to even speculate on that,” she said. “We have laws to follow under the Municipal Act and we have to go through a legal procurement process. We can’t just go to one of them and say, ‘Hey, we want you.’”
The committee also isn’t counting out the possibility of the city taking on the responsibility of providing public transit itself or abandoning the service altogether, since it cost them around $328,000 in 2017 and the city is working with a tightened budget for the 2018−19 fiscal year.
Byer said the committee is set to present its findings to the rest of council during the in-camera portion of their Sept. 17 meeting.