SaskParty “just plain mean” to not reconsider STC cut

To wreck what is built, claiming others will provide something else in its place, while the passage of time reveals that others will provide even less, is poor planning at best. More to the point, it’s mean or heartless when the wreckers refuse to rebuild what they’ve torn down.

To: Minister Joe Hargrave

cc: Premier Scott Moe; Buckley Belanger (Critic for First Nations and Metis Relations and Highways); Danielle Chartier (Critic for Seniors, Health and Status of Women); David Forbes (Critic for Diversity, Equality and Human Rights); Doyle Vermette (Critic for Northern Saskatchewan)

I’m writing to express my mounting dismay about the cut to STC, following the recent news of Greyhound shutting down its operations in Western Canada.

In March 2017, after your government announced the decision to shut down STC, you said to the media: “We’re optimistic there will be other services provided by private entrepreneurs or a non-profit organization.” This belief that private companies would replace STC services was major part of your message to the public following the announcement of the STC closure.

The fact is, despite your unfounded early optimism, private companies and non-profits have not filled the role that STC did. Over one year since STC’s closure, private companies are only servicing 28 locations, as compared to STC’s former 253 points of service. And now, with Greyhound pulling all of its Western Canada routes, inter-city transportation is about to become even more limited (and therefore more risky) for the people of Saskatchewan.

The devastating impacts of the abrupt closure of STC have been well documented in the media. Assuming you and your colleagues have been paying attention to these stories and numbers, you will know that many people across the province are experiencing tremendous hardship as a result of this decision. Many people have been forced to assume huge risks to their safety and health by hitchhiking or accepting rides from unsafe people, missing or delaying medical appointments, and/or becoming more deeply isolated.

Shutting down STC was a cruel and short-sighted decision that has had a disproportionate impact on people who are already extremely marginalized: Indigenous women, people living with disabilities and chronic illnesses, people living in rural and remote communities including reserves, people living in poverty, and seniors. To pull people’s only source of inter-city transportation from them without firmly securing a suitable alternative is just plain mean.

Minister, if you and your government honestly thought that private companies would fill the void left behind by STC, now that you know that this is not the case (in fact the opposite is happening), you have a responsibility to repeal the decision and re-vamp STC. To know the consequences of this decision, and to stand by it, is inhumane and heartless.

I urge you to take this letter, and others like it, seriously.

Thanks for reading,
Shayna Stock

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Contact the City for an Airport Bus

We’ll have to offer Service Regina our support of bus service to the Airport. The online survey Regina Transit has set up isn’t as useful as it should be, because they don’t list the obvious Airport Route as an option! There’s also the budget suggestion page where you can increase Transit’s budget as they need.

The Mayor is still confused about the need for a Regina Transit bus to go to the Regina Airport.
“We know there are employees that go out there, and certainly does that warrant having a bus system that goes out there continuously? We don’t know that.”

Councillor Hawkins: “I do support Transit going to the Airport, but we have to do it in the right way… [we] don’t want to run empty buses.”
Mayor wants “a business case made”.
It’s the Design Regina Official Community Plan. Follow it!

Otherwise we’re left with people unfamiliar with Regina following my terrifying example:

Regina’s Bus Situation Gets More Absurd

The SaskParty’s spectacularly bad move to end the inter-city bus service STC keeps getting worse. The international bus line Greyhound has moved their service out of Regina’s downtown, into the airport. This might not have been such a problem, except there is no public transit bus (or even a private one) to the airport! So a bus rider is forced to walk an unsafe long route, bum a ride, or use an expensive cab to use the ‘affordable’ Greyhound inter-city bus.

Waschuk hopes Greyhound will expand its presence at the airport.

Likewise, he’d like to see city bus service to the airport — although that is unlikely in the very near future.

Brad Bells, director of Regina Transit, said city bus service to the airport is “on our horizon,” but unlikely to occur in 2018.

Regina Transit’s next priority is an Arcola Express bus, connecting downtown to southeast neighbourhoods like Greens on Gardiner.

Waschuk said the airport’s tenants and prospective tenants have been wondering about bus service for their employees.

“There’s 1,000 people in the airport campus out here, counting all the buildings and tenants. … That number’s going to continue to grow,” said Waschuk.

He also sees bus service as valuable for Regina residents in general, including university students and seniors.

“I remember my own daughter when she was at university in Saskatoon, she took the bus to the airport all the time for economic reasons,” said Waschuk.

“It’s a good idea to be able to connect to the airport using public transit. Most cities have that.”

It’s a grim situation for people who don’t drive cars when only 1 in 3 Regina MPs cares about the problem, and 1 of 11 on Regina City Council wants to see a bus to the airport.

STC Is Transit

Dear Ministers:
Over the next 5 years, Saskatchewan’s capital city is expected to spend over $175 million to operate transit services. That you feel $85 million* is too much for the entire province to spend on an important service for which there is no alternative in most locations despite your insistence that it’s coming “in the future”, is a disgrace. You can’t even take a bus between Saskatoon and Regina today, you have to go through Winnipeg. Next week you can go through Yorkton and back at a cost of $114 for less than half of the journey’s non-direct distance.

Regina’s Mayor Fougere said this about transit services,
“I would view it as an essential program for the quality of life for those who are most vulnerable, those who do not have the ability to pay, but certainly require transportation,” the mayor said Tuesday. “This is fundamental to the quality of life in […] Saskatchewan.”

Minister Beaudry-Mellor said, “Having this transportation option available to them is really critical if we want to see employment opportunities realized, or education opportunities realized, or even access to basic medical appointments,” Beaudry-Mellor said. “Many people don’t have access to a vehicle in […] communities that are on our programs.”

If your hypocrisy isn’t apparent now, I don’t know how else to describe it to you, but I’ll try again if you insist on not rescuing STC from the scrap heap you put it on without even replacement services in place first.

Sincerely,
John Klein
Regina, SK

*Minister’s 5 year reference below:

Minister Hargrave STC

Comparing Regina Transit to STC

This article from less than a year ago is jarring, in relation to what the SaskParty actually did to privatize STC quickly without an election held to obtain a mandate to do so.

STC Safe from Privatization

STC saw revenue — from passenger and express parcel business — rise to $18.5 million in 2015-16. That compares with $16.6 million in the 12 months of 2014.

The annual subsidy, or grant, given to STC was $13.25 million in the 2015-16 operating year. That compares with $10.3 million in the 12 months of 2014.

Still, that means STC covers about 62 per cent of its operating expenses, and “in the public transportation industry, these numbers are very favourable,” Grice wrote in STC’s annual report.

By comparison, Regina Transit’s fares bring in about $10.8 million — or 28 per cent — of the system’s $35.66-million operating cost, the city’s 2016 budget says.

STC’s “public policy role” is cited several times in its annual report, released Thursday.

“Maybe it should be labelled as a utility,” mused Campeau

Wow, these numbers and comments expose the lies and incompetence of the Wall government’s “Meeting the Challenge” austerity budget of 2017.