‘We froze all the way in’: Young and elderly on bus ride for hours with no heat

A recent bus ride from the northern Manitoba city of Thompson to Winnipeg has one First Nations passenger speaking out about the “awful” experience.

On Monday evening, Vivian Rabiscah boarded the bus in Thompson around 10 p.m. She was traveling to the city from York Landing First Nation with her niece for a medical appointment.

Two hours into the trip Rabiscah said things took a turn for the worse.

She woke up around 12:30 a.m. to find the heat had stopped working.

“Everybody was all bundled up and I was trying to share blankets and make sure everybody was warm,” she said.

“I just thought that was total BS.”

bus ride

(The door of the bus can be seen ajar on a trip from Thompson to Winnipeg. Photo courtesy of Vivian Rabiscah)

According to Rabiscah there were approximately 25 people on the bus including some elderly and one baby.

The group was traveling via Thompson Bus Lines to make the 10-hour overnight trip to Winnipeg.

Temperatures dipped to -30 C overnight.

Halfway through the trip, Rabiscah questioned the driver over the lack of heat.

“He said he didn’t know why it’s like that,” she said. “He said something about the sensors saying that the sensors said it was warm in there… and he couldn’t turn up the heat or anything.”

She later learned the front door wouldn’t close properly and the bus was continuing its journey with a somewhat opened door.

bus ride

“The door was partly ajar. So we froze all the way in,” said Rabiscah.

Thompson Bus Lines is one of the four companies who have filled the gap since Greyhound discontinued service in Manitoba last fall.

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, also known as Nelson House, signed on as a partner in January.

Chief Marcel Moody said Rabiscah’s experience is unacceptable.

“I don’t like to hear complaints about our businesses because it affects our bottom line. It affects customer confidence and the business we’re trying to run,” Moody said over the phone Wednesday. “We’re trying to best address these issues.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide the best service for northern people. Prior to [this] our people from northern Manitoba, especially our Cree people, have been underserved.”

Moody said he’s received four similar complaints and as a result plans to look at some other options like new buses.

“If that’s what it takes maybe that’s what we need to consider,” said Moody.

A representative from Thompson Bus Lines did not respond to multiple interview requests.

For now, Rabiscah said she will be using a different bus service.

 

 

Reporter / Winnipeg

Brittany joined the APTN news team in October 2016. She is Ojibway and a member of the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba. Before coming to APTN, she graduated with a joint degree in communications from the University of Winnipeg and Red River College.