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.

Advertisements

Cheap Passes

Regina offers a discounted pass, but nothing like this Calgary program.

Demand for Calgary’s new $5.05 monthly transit pass has exceeded expectations, with nearly 40,000 of the steeply discounted passes sold to Calgarians living in extreme poverty during the program’s first three months.

…Melanie Hulsker, manager of strategic services for Calgary Neighbourhoods, said the pass numbers are already higher than projected and demonstrate there was a need in the community for the program, which is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada.

Staff who sell the passes have heard a range of stories from Calgarians happy to have access to transit for $5.05 a month, including a woman who said the initiative has allowed her family to finally travel places together.

“That’s definitely an example of how this can be life changing,” said Hulsker. “Where before she could only buy one pass for an entire family and now they can go out and buy a pass for every member of the family.”

A Few Steps Forward, Regina Moves Back

The progress of a city is not assured by the passage of time. Regina has unquestionably progressed in some areas of life, and unquestionably regressed in others. The following is an incomplete list.

100 years ago, chickens were allowed to roam free.
Now, the City prohibits them even in a backyard.

60 years ago, Electric Vehicles were common on some Regina streets, in the form of streetcars. Now, only a few dozen or so EVs are in the city, as electric bikes, cars, and SUVs. We also had a bus route to the airport, but no bus is available to the airport today.

Also 60 years ago, we allowed toxic waste dumping into our soil and groundwater, all over the city. Now that’s only permitted at the landfill.

28 years ago, you could leave Regina by STC bus, or by Via Rail train. Now, in 2017, neither of those modes of transportation are an option due to government cuts without environmental reviews being undertaken to guide those bad decisions.

27 years ago, Parking enforcement used sensibly sized vehicles. Now they use GMC gas burning SUVs.

January 1990 Parking enforcement vehicle

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.

Start our own Bus Service?

Stop The Cuts held a press conference yesterday to highlight the SaskParty Government turned down federal money for STC.

In response, the incompetent and callous SaskParty Government said, “[I]f Stop the Cuts is interested in starting its own passenger service, we would encourage them to make the appropriate application to the Highway Traffic Board.”

We had our own service, it was called STC.

There’s a good economic reason why a co-operative or private bus company isn’t going to operate a successful bus service in Saskatchewan. The geography is too vast, and it requires the resources of a government to operate, much how free healthcare cannot be provided by private healthcare offices. To have a higher standard of living, we cannot depend solely on the private sector to deliver services that lose private owners money when they offer equitable service to rural Saskatchewan.

Regina has its own bus service called Regina Transit. However, it’s limited by a bylaw [provincial law instead perhaps?] preventing it from operating beyond 25km of the city limits. It would also need to obtain STC coach buses to operate a successful and profitable service to Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.

From Regina Transit’s Route and Scheduling Analyst:

Regina Transit is a municipal system for use by the residents of Regina. Under the Highway traffic bylaw we are not allowed to travel outside the city limits more than 25 KM. Our buses also aren’t geared for highway travel but rather geared for lower city speeds.