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This article was published 19/7/2017 (919 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A northwestern Ontario transportation company is hoping to give Selkirk bus riders something they haven't known in the past few years — stability.
The company responsible for the route, Exclusive Bus Lines, announced in May it will end service between Selkirk and Winnipeg Sept. 2. It will mark the second time in the past two years the route has been cancelled.
Beaver Bus Lines, which shuttled people from Selkirk to Winnipeg for 68 years, cancelled its service in July 2016. Exclusive took over, but warned of its impending closure less than a year later, citing "unpredictability and decline in ridership."
Now, Kasper Transportation Service will take its fleet of minibuses to Highway 9.
David Borowski, who takes the bus from Selkirk to his downtown office, is "very thankful" Kasper has taken over.
"I feel safer riding the bus than taking a car, especially in winter when the roads are slippery," he said, noting it's also tough to find affordable parking downtown.
Kasper Transportation Service will start with two buses and run them on a similar schedule to Exclusive's.
"I'm hoping that it'll be a nice, smooth transition," said Scott Spak, Kasper's vice president of operations.
Spak foresees success with the minibuses, which have 15 seats per vehicle.
"(Exclusive Bus Lines) using those large coach buses, I think that's extreme overkill and clearly why they financially couldn't operate for very long," he said.
At the time of Exclusive's launch, owner Walt Morris told the Free Press he felt he could save the bus route and expand it.
"I've seen the Exclusive bus running through downtown, and it's always empty," Spak said.
Spak said his company wants to eventually expand to other rural areas around Winnipeg to give commuters a second option to driving. Kasper would like to provide charter buses between the city and northern communities. He noted the company has been successful in operating in small communities throughout northwestern Ontario.
"This could be a nice way to get our foot in the door in the region," Spak said.
The buses will begin service on Sept. 1.
— with files from Bill Redekop