The City of Thompson announced March 20 that transit service would be suspended as of the end of the day in line with precautions to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Over the past three days, we’ve seen a remarkable reduction in transit ridership as people are following provincial self-distancing protocols, and the schools are promoting keeping students at home,” the city said on its Facebook page. “As students make up the bulk of transit ridership in Thompson, transit service will continue for the remainder of the day.”
The decision to suspend rather than reduce service was made because reports from other communities have indicated that reducing transit service leads to a higher density of riders, which is a potential health risk during a pandemic.
Two days earlier, Mahihkan Bus Lines announced that service between Thompson and Winnipeg and between The Pas and Thompson would be suspended for two weeks.
“This decision is in the best interest of our employees, passengers and community members,” said CEO Suzanne Barbeau-Bracegirdle in a notice on the company’s Facebook page.
Service between Creighton, Sask. and Winnipeg is still running on a reduced schedule, with service March 22, March 24, March 26, March 29 and March 31.
“We regret the impact these decisions may have on our employees, vendors, customers and communities,” said Barbeau-Bracegirdle. "Management will be working with our employees to minimize the financial hardship so that they can focus on their health and well being during this difficult time. We ask that anyone whom is experiencing flu, cold or virus symptoms to please not enter our buildings or buses in efforts to reduce the spread.”
Maple Bus Lines and NCN Thompson Bus, which offer bus service between Thompson and Winnipeg continue to run, though NCN Thompson Bus has introduced a screening form that passengers must fill out before checking in for their travel or getting on the bus.
Perimeter Aviation said March 17 that it had instituted screening for passengers and that anyone with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection would not be allowed to board its planes.
The airline said it is in the process of finalizing a new flight schedule to ensure the communities it serves would continue to receive regular service with enough capacity to move all passengers, cargo and mail without delays or interruptions.
Calm Air said on Facebook March 17 that, “In light of COVID-19 and the changes in demand Calm Air is continuing to take precautionary measures to best protect our passengers and staff. That being said we are temporarily reducing our schedule. We will be continuing to assess this evolving situation and will communicate any new developments or further expected changes.”