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.

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?

Save STC – SaskParty Ending Rural Transportation System

In a shocking turn of events, it’s been left to the NDP to defend the interests of people in rural Saskatchewan. This is something that would not have been predicted ten years ago, when the NDP name was mud outside of Regina and Saskatoon for having closed hospitals and schools in many small communities. Now, the SaskParty government is selling off STC’s assets to private companies, destroying a critical transportation infrastructure that has been in place for 70 years.

About 200 people gathered over lunch hour in Regina at the new STC Bus terminal, to tell the government to stop the closure. Guest speakers include City Councillor Andrew Stevens. Andrew was on the Morning Edition to explain the ridiculous cuts to the Cities.

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.

4 New Councillors Could Shift The Balance

I’m more optimistic today than I was yesterday about the new Council. Although a majority 6 Councillors were returned, with 4 new faces it’s possible that some of the incumbents could be convinced to change their votes on a number of issues.

Lori Bresciani is new in Ward 4. I’m concerned about her current view on downtown parking.

If we want to people to come downtown Parking has to available and convenient.  I do not believe we have adequate parking and we need to provide more parking options for residents.

Contrast her view with Joel’s below. I hope her perspective will change with experience.

Jason Mancinelli, a highly rated auto mechanic, is new in Ward 9. I couldn’t find his campaign page. He appears to want action on environmental issues. If he makes his first impact on changing the culture of transit by turning down his Council parking pass, and insist upon a Transit pass instead, that will be great.

Andrew Stevens in Ward 3 wants a bus route to the airport, first thing. That’s long overdue, and low hanging fruit. He also wants a housing first strategy that works, like Medicine Hat has. That’s great! He wants to “work towards water conservation and stewardship.” Excellent! He’ll focus on implementing the Transportation Master Plan, and Official Community Plan.

Fixing our infrastructure: The current Council has prioritized sprawl at the expense of maintaining and improving our existing infrastructure. Instead, we need to develop a strategy for improving public transit, bike infrastructure and recreation facilities, while fully implementing the Official Community Plan and Neighbourhood Plans.

When it comes to infrastructure, we need to talk about dedicated bike lanes and a better public transit systems. Cars are expensive and damaging to our health. We need to change, and that’s why I’d look to recommendations in our Transportation Master Plan for guidance.

Joel Murray in Ward 6 seems to understand that parking in downtown cannot be solved by adding more car parking. He gets bonus points for knowing about car sharing.

If we can invest more into options other than a private car (bike lanes, car sharing, and transit) we can keep rates low and have more parking available.

Protecting out environment is paramount. As a community we need to work together on diverting more from our landfill, expanding transit, increasing bike lanes, shopping local, and working from home if possible.

Is approval of the Blue Dot motion forthcoming from this changed Council? Time will tell.