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

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?