Support Our Crown Corporations

For City Council on Monday:

Your Worship,

I’m here to speak in support of Saskatchewan’s Crown Corporations. I’m originally from a small town that would not have had electrical grid service, nor widespread telephone service when it did if not for the creation of Crown corporations. SaskPower, SGI, STC, and SaskTel are among the very best service providers in Canada to this day, often offering rates far below their national competitors’ rates.

While I was on the advisory board for SaskTel’s Community Net high speed Internet service to schools and libraries, we led the world in broadband access across our vast province. Crowns are capable of delivering world-leading services, and ultimately that’s what City government is here for, not to make a profit, but to deliver needed services that individuals are not well suited to provide in a competitive economy.

It’s still possible for Regina, Saskatoon, and other municipalities to save STC by taking it over, since we run Transportation services with larger budgets than the “loss” STC incurs each year to offer transportation service to Regina and the rest of the province. If we focus on routes admittedly “profitable” by the Provincial government, we can maintain service levels to some destinations, and add a revenue stream for the City of Regina. Try to find another delegation that offers a revenue stream that fits with one of the City’s core-services already in existence.

Other parts of Canada have inter-regional transportation services, like Go Transit, and Via Rail. The Provincial Government has failed in its duty to provide multi-modal transportation options to its citizens and visitors, so the City should make its best effort to fill in that gap as it does with ParaTransit service. I must bring up the Province is paying for shuttle buses to the city’s hospitals to reduce parking problems, rather than fund Regina Transit sufficiently to operate shuttles that are available for patients and regular Transit users as well. There are smarter ways of delivering Transit services, but standing by and letting STC be scrapped is not one of those smart choices.

Speaking of smart choices regarding Transit, I’d like to see fares for children be reduced to $0. This would encourage families to use the bus over private automobile choices.

#YQRcc Budget Then, and Now

As part of the 2017 budget, 13 transit buses will be replaced, along with six paratransit buses, costing $8.3 million this year. An additional $2.9 million will be spent on bus shelters to upgrade with new concrete pads and accessibility enhancements, as well as purchase more modern bus shelter for the city. Regina Transit will upgrade the technology, including dispatch systems, this year as well.

That was in January.

This is in April. Shifts Happen.

Last year the City promised U of R students that they’d see increased bus service. Now, service is being cut back. Should URSU withhold payment to the City for their broken promise?

A Notable Walk to the #YQR Regina Airport

Regina is lucky to have an International Airport located within its city limits. Cab rides to downtown from stepping off the plane cost no more than about $15C, compared to the $50 seen in major centres around the continent. What we are unlucky to have, is a complacent City Hall with no plan to provide active transportation options to the airport in the immediate future. The Airport, to its credit, has built a walkway to the edge of its property, but the City refuses to even budget to close the sidewalk gap. There is still no $3.25 Regina Transit bus to the airport or businesses west of Lewvan Dr. There’s no Uber or Lyft in sight.

How bad is it right now to take the bus then walk? It was +2 to +6C on Friday. Take a look, as I step off the #9 bus* (not the closest stop, but the most convenient for me to step onto on this particular day) at Elphinstone St. and Regina Ave. I was pulling two small rolling suitcases and a backpack, for additional hilarity and amusement.

*Do not try this at home, I’m a professional puddle jumper. 😉

There was one person walking the other direction, while I was leaving the bridge and entering the pathway.

Transit Stops Removed Doesn’t Equal Lost Service?

I had some harsh words for Regina Transit’s latest service change to make it into the news, the other day. I’ve had more than a few bones to pick with them. They graciously reached out to me. Here’s a portion of their reply:

Transit often has delays that it experiences on the road that it must contend with to maintain the schedule. For the most part, these delays may be out of the Transit’s system’s hands.  However, delays also happen depending on the amount of bus stops on a particular route.  This is one thing that the Transit department can control.  Looking at three corridors (Albert Street, Broad Street, Victoria Avenue) there are opportunities where there is low ridership and bus stops that are placed too close together to minimize delays to buses on the route.  The result is a better on time performance and a quicker trip for the customers to make the transit system more time competitive with the private automobile.

This is not a cut to bus service hours or a reduction in service.

(Emphasis mine)

Literally removing service from a block presently served by a stop, isn’t a reduction? Someone doesn’t have to check a dictionary to know that’s doublespeak. The real point Transit is trying to make is that people won’t notice the reduction because overall the trip times may go down and ridership could increase. That all remains to be seen.

Really it’s everyone doing the one thing they can control, and the real/best solutions are not being discussed. As a citizen all I can do is object to City Council (and Regina Transit) about this bonehead maneuver to remove 40 stops. As Regina Transit all they can do is change routes or remove or add stops, they can’t add more buses like they really need. City Council is the problem (which we the citizens are responsible for), they won’t provide the buses and drivers and enforcement, and HOV lanes required to have an effective system. So we get half measures that force Regina Transit into turning major streets into pretend express routes all day and night, leaving people to walk 3+ blocks to catch a bus when right now it’s every other block.
And the stops will fill in with parked cars for free instead, and people crossing won’t be as visible to vehicle traffic, and cyclists will have more doors to contend with too. It’s not even close to the spirit of the Transportation Master Plan.

Don't make me come back there! #transit

GOOSE PLAINS, SK – The City of Goose Plains announced they’ll be soon requiring the spacing of all private car parking spots 400m from each location. This will reduce traffic congestion, and enhance convenience for drivers, as they will not need to drive as great a distance in most cases to park their vehicle where it will sit for more than 23 hours a day.

UPDATE: The result –

Transit Union Makes Some Points

Baker said Regina Transit hasn’t kept up with the growing city and increasing ridership. The schedules don’t have enough time built in to catch up lest something not go according to plan, he explained.

“Our scheduling that we give to the passengers is essentially our promise to the people. If we can’t maintain that bus on time, they’re not going to ride,” said Lucier.

Baker thinks the solution is more buses on the road. While the city has touted new vehicle purchases, Baker said those are only maintaining the fleet; buses are still pulled off the road regularly for maintenance, causing cancelled runs.

Baker also wants to see route redrawing: shortening runs and moving toward increased frequency.

That’s all true, based on what I’ve seen, and what I’ve heard from drivers.

Day Passes on #Transit Buses in Regina?

It’s 2016, and the issue of not being able to buy Day passes on the buses in Regina has existed and been raised with Transit on multiple occasions. My previous solution suggested to them hasn’t got anywhere for years, so I provided a low-tech solution today.

UPDATE: Jan 26 call back:
Regina Transit will not upgrade the fare boxes’ software to print Day Passes, and won’t accept the low tech solution that requires drivers to have a stash of passes available for purchase. They insist that Day Passes are “readily available” at places like Safeway or at the Transit office downtown. “Oh really,” I say. What about a visitor I want to take around town? We have to get onto a bus for $3, get off downtown, go into the Transit office (if it’s open), buy the pass for $9, then wait for the next bus to go by to begin our journey.

So carrying even a $45 Day Pass inventory on each bus would cost the City? “Absolutely.” With only 33 sold a month city wide, that would meet present demand. If it sold out, at least people would have the opportunity at convenience rather than assuring none.

“It has been discussed and it’s not something we’re going to do.”

So why do we offer a Day Pass at all if only 33 purchased at $8, and we’ve raised the price to $9?

His response was that maybe they’ll look at ending the Day Pass.

I’m looking out for tourists and transit riders in our city, and what is Regina Transit doing for them? Raising their fares as fuel prices plummet, and failing to use technology and employees already on their buses to their full abilities.

Why Aren’t Regina Buses All Full?

The reason families aren’t using the SGI New Year’s Eve  “ride free”promotion, is because taking family to supper at 5pm is about $10! And the $10 must be paid in coins, no cash because fare boxes don’t support it. $8 day/family passes are not offered on the bus, only at the Transit Office downtown and only work on weekends for a family.

New Year’s rides are not free as advertised, only if you get on the bus after 7pm! Clearly it’s designed only for people driving to a party where they’d have to abandon their car overnight if they take the bus home. Then, if they want to get their car on New Year’s Day, there’s NO bus service to take the driver back to it (for another $3).

URSU, where I buy Transit rides at the UofR, has inconveniently closed early for the holiday season, so I have to make a special trip to fill up my R-Card with less expensive 2015 rides. We don’t yet offer online payments for people to pay for bus rides.

We should be reducing the transit fare until buses are full, not raising it.

UPDATE: A year later, they cut another hour of free service.