A Brandon company is meeting a demand for passenger service between here and Winnipeg after the closure of Greyhound’s operations across the Prairies on Oct. 31.
Brandon Bus Lines is providing regular service between Brandon and the provincial capital on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after the company received numerous phone calls requesting a re-opening of the route. The 31-passenger mini-buses are running out of 1838 17th Street at 7:30 a.m. each day and arriving in Winnipeg at 10:15 a.m. The route has stops in Carberry and Portage la Prairie, Man. as necessary on both the outgoing and return trips.
The service ends back in Brandon at 8:45 p.m. Tickets for the passenger service are $50 plus taxes.
“We didn’t run the service before, but the reason why we started is we had a lot of people calling in and asking if we did a service,” said Brandon Bus Lines office manager Jeanelle Hrechka. “There was an obvious gap in service, so we thought we’d fill it.”
Hrechka said the route has had passengers on every trip since beginning operations on Nov. 19. Should demand increase, the company will use a bigger vehicle when necessary.
“We’re focusing on Brandon to Winnipeg for now,” she said. “People are going there for medical appointments and shopping; things like that. We won’t say we will not be expanding the service in the future, but for right now, we’re going to stick to this plan.”
One-time national passenger bus service provider Greyhound Canada closed operations through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba alongside parts of British Columbia and Northern Ontario at the end of last month. The closure ended more than eight decades of service on the Prairies. The company cited a 41 per cent drop in ridership alongside a 35 per cent decrease in shipping since 2010 as reasons behind the decision.
Brandon Bus Lines, which is operated by Gordon and Natalie Hrechka, opened in 2006 as a charter service for everything from wedding parties and schools to senior groups and hockey clubs. The company also provides regular service to the Sand Hills Casino south of Carberry alongside frequent service to other casinos in Manitoba and Minnesota.