At lunch, to entertain the crowd at the Just Transitions summit in Regina, musician and song writer Laura Stewart played her carbon tax song. It’s pretty catchy, and I hope the PM listens to it.
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,
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.
Here are thoughts as to why Canada is lagging on public transit so badly. I think the roots of the problem are in our vast distances between cities, and our difficult climate.
A little over 60 years ago, we had an electric streetcar network, so why and where did we take a wrong turn for short term gains using personal automobiles?
The wrong turn had GM and Firestone among those corporate malcontents steering politicians’ hands toward fuel-guzzling buses.
$5000 fine for GM, and a $1 fine for the person at GM behind the conspiracy that has cost municipalities across North America hundreds of billions of dollars in misspent, high-polluting infrastructure.
Regina is such a fantastic place to be, that your City Council wants to remind you that it’s illegal to try to leave it by vehicle without paying for the privilege.
It’s a somewhat bold strategy to Grow Regina by keeping it illegal to hitch-hike away from the Queen City, or offer to take anyone with you if you’re making an escape, but I’m sure the Councillors in favour of the bylaw have thought it through thoroughly.
Fortunately the closest hitchhiker friendly municipalities are sufficiently far from the Queen City, that once a hitchhiker traveling across the country by the nationally famous Trans-Canada Highway disembarks here, they’ll have to hire a bus or licensed cab to get out. It would take over 12 hours to walk to Moose Jaw; few are likely to attempt it. It would be almost pointless anyway, since Moose Jaw also has this sort of amazing bylaw. Facing this legal and financial quandary, they’ll more than likely opt to settle here, thus boosting our tax base.
Following the example set out in our city’s bylaws, should I see a distressed person at the side of the road in Regina, I’ll be certain to drive past them, lest they misinterpret my slowing down as an enticement to enter my vehicle. Such a misplaced deed could cost me $110, and the attempted hitchhiker $110 too.
Seeing too that “Soliciting business from a vehicle” is illegal, I’ll give those apparently nefarious food trucks on the Plaza downtown, a wide berth this Summer. I’ll report any rogue carwash fundraisers at schools, to the appropriate authorities.
I really must congratulate this City Council for preparing for high-tech ride-sharing services that have become popular in many cities, notably Uber and Lyft. With these updated fines, everyone should get the message loud and clear that Regina is closed to high-tech ride services right down to the low tech thumbing of rides.
By the time we catch up to the rest of the continent, we’ll be so far behind the times, we’ll think we’re ahead.
Switching gears from satire to serious, I think this Bylaw encourages my fellow citizens to show a lack of human decency to their fellow people. If someone is rich enough they can pay to solicit from a roadside with a large sign, but if someone tries to hold a cardboard sign there to have enough for bus fare or a meal (or even to oppose political incumbents), they’ll be harassed by police.
Some of this bylaw is in fact targeted at poor people, or temporary guests in our city. It would be ridiculous for police to enforce the hitchhiking bylaw, and if they do it will unjustly target people poorer than you or I.
In regards to the Traffic Bylaw being discussed at Council on Monday, I’d like to note that I think Wascana Parkway should be 50km/h limited at the intersections of Kramer Blvd, and also University Dr. North. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pedestrian crossings at these intersections each day, and the 70km/h limit is not putting pedestrian safety first. The speed limit being too high is also causing problems in serving the area’s residents with better Regina Transit bus stop locations.
The City contacted me Tuesday morning to note that they are likely going ahead with the bus stop install before September this year!
Farmers are saying their grain isn’t being moved to port, in favour of increased crude-oil-by-train shipments.
I think the farmers have a point. Also, people get put behind grain and oil on railway priorities, causing Via delays. The solution is to stop holding our transportation system back in the 20th century, and start building high capacity railways including high speed rail networks for people in Canada and linking northern cities in the USA.
Part of the reason we’re not seeing progress on this front is that railways are owned by private companies now not looking out for the public good.
Rail service could be a question period issue when Parliament resumes sitting next week.
The Grain Growers of Canada has sent a letter to Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz . . . saying more grain has to move to port.
It says farmers are frustrated because elevators can’t get enough cars from the railways to move a record crop to export position. This is translating into lost sales and a serious cash flow issue for many farmers.