Letter to MLA regarding STC Closure/Privatization

Dear Mrs. Beaudry-Mellor:

I’m dismayed by your government’s cut of all rural SK bus service. This is a horrible decision that isolates people in small towns and cities, and harms people who cannot drive including people who are blind, or unable or unwilling to operate a private motor vehicle. It will increase the cost of healthcare delivery. Package delivery to rural Saskatchewan is also harmed. Charter buses will be harder to obtain in our province now too.

Rather than cut an essential public transportation service that will literally never be offered by the private sector or even a co-operative (because it will never make money), the PST could have been raised to 6.5%. This would pay to improve public transportation across the province. Did you realize that your government gives close to $0/year to regular public transportation, which makes it a Canadian anomaly. In an increasingly urbanizing province, might it be a good idea to ensure people don’t sit in traffic jams daily? One could assume that the SaskParty doesn’t care about public transportation, people without cars in rural Saskatchewan, or building solutions to reduce air pollution.

I hope you can work to reverse this short-sighted cut, because I fear that once the service is privatized, another responsible government will not take the time to build a crown service that is required for prosperity in rural Saskatchewan.

Sincerely,

John Klein

Regina

P.S. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is no doubt overjoyed by this privatization. I asked them in 2015 for an example of a private bus service that would serve as the model for one in Saskatchewan to use if we lost STC. They suggested one in Hong Kong. Seriously. Saskatchewan is so much like Hong Kong apparently. I guess if you don’t reverse the cut, the SaskParty could bring in consultants from Hong Kong to help. If they cost less than $12Mil to consult, you’d still save money.

UPDATE: Instead of the “human conversation” promised in her Facebook ads, I got a form letter response that didn’t address my points or ideas.

Hello John

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the provincial budget.

As you know, Saskatchewan is faced with a difficult challenge due to resource revenue being down over $1 billion for three years, tax revenue down due to resource sector slowdown (corporate tax), and a growing population adding pressure to vital services. Our plan includes controlling and reducing spending, modernizing and expanding the tax system, investing in priority areas, and returning to balance over three years.

Meeting the challenge requires very difficult choices, not the least of which is winding down STC. Despite the company’s best efforts, ridership continues to drop

and costs continue to soar, the per passenger subsidy ballooning from $25 per passenger to $94 in the last decade alone. The growing burden is not sustainable and the government made the decision that the funding would be best used on core priorities.

{Why is public transportation not a “core priority” for the SaskParty?}

Knowing your concerns is helpful as we move forward. I take feedback from constituents seriously and truly appreciate you taking the time to write.

Sincerely,

Tina

Sent on behalf of

The Honourable Tina Beaudry-Mellor, MLA
196 Massey Road, Regina, SK   S4S 4N5
T: []
E: []

I’ve included corrections and facts that supplement Tina’s letter.

STC Bus Service Couldn’t Survive the SaskParty

This news makes me so mad and disappointed. The future of Saskatchewan got a little more bleak today.

“What are the core services that people expect from government – and it is not necessarily a bus company,” Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said Wednesday.

“As for the short window of time before service ends, the province said new buses were on order and they would have to pay for them.

One of the worst parts of this is that the effing CTF finally gets their way. Now there’s no feasible means to exist in a small town without a car. If you’re blind, or can’t drive, you’re screwed. It’s a heartless cut that hurts seniors, environmentalists, people with disabilities who cannot drive, and makes life less likely to thrive in small town Saskatchewan.

ADDED:

“You guys don’t know what you’re doing to small communities. Think about the little people.”

One Nigerian immigrant doesn’t know how she’ll bring her daughter into Saskatoon for medical appointments. An elderly Saskatoon woman said she won’t be able to travel anymore to the Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral Spa near Watrous. Another man lamented the loss of parcel service as he headed to pick up some car parts ordered from Prince Albert.

My life is shutting down

It’s the sort of problem that cannot be solved without government support. If people could form a co-operative and offer replacement service, they would, but they simply wouldn’t make enough money to offer this vital link between communities. It cannot be overstated what a body blow this is to rural Saskatchewan, and that even includes cities like Weyburn, Humboldt, and Yorkton.

When a Gazillion Means Less Than One

I’ll update this blog post if an example is forthcoming. It’s been a day’s wait, but to the CTF the PM having a nanny is a bigger story than trying to shut down my province’s bus service.

STC’s parcel service makes a profit, and the passenger service doesn’t. There was once STC service to North Dakota, today there is not. There’s no means to get to the United States via bus without going a province over, so obviously improvements could be made. The best addition in recent years has been newer buses and Wi-Fi (although Wi-Fi’s worked only half of the two times I’ve tried it).

Yet even with those shortcomings, there would be no coming and going from many Saskatchewan towns without a public transportation bus service. Until passenger rail returns, we have to maintain a bus network, and can’t depend upon individuals to make a profit on our transportation network. My memorable experience with a private bus operator in Newfoundland was trying to get a ticket, and finding their phone number was out of service. Saskatchewan doesn’t need to step down to that level of service by dispensing of STC.

UPDATE:

Hong Kong reminds me so much of Saskatchewan.

If You Don’t Like Canada…

Comments from CBC story, discussing the U-Pass at the University of Regina:

Corruptable writes:

forcing someone to pay for a bus pass they will not use is ludicrous. she would force everyone to pay for a parking spot that only some will use…

blue cheese responds:

@Corruptable
like
getting taxed for schools when we have no children,
paying more on our power bills to provide cenovus with liquid co2
getting taxed for city recycling whether we want to or not
paying for the football stadium whether we use it or not
paying for healthcare whether sick or not
etc etc.
in canada we look out for everyone, if you don’t like canada, vote for a conservative. you will pay for all your services out of your own pocket and still pay taxes.

Saskatoon Shiners #exploresk

Saskatoon is a beautiful city, so don’t let these photos fool you. Every city has a few shiners here and there. “There”, in this case, is downtown.
Holiday Inn Supermax Prison
This is the Holiday Inn Supermax Prison. Don’t worry, it only looks like a prison from the outside. You can leave, unlike the more picturesque Hotel California.

Here’s one of the more beautiful parkades with a cell phone tower behind it.
Saskatoon

It’s January, and the snow has retreated into puddles due to the unseasonal temperatures, but the gang activity hasn’t retreated.
Saskatoon

The people of Saskatoon are friendly, and will accommodate you whether you’re addicted to tobacco or real estate.
Saskatoon

Saskatoon
The Sturdy Stone isn’t going to see you, so you should go see it.

The HMCS Unicorn will be grinning at you when you walk by.
Saskatoon

Continue reading

Bus-Taker’s Guide To The Galaxy

I helped invent and host a city bus tour to a movie theatre from the Riddell Centre on Tuesday evening. It went very well, even though our bus was 20 minutes late when first leaving. The weather was astoundingly perfect, and the ten people who went all seemed to enjoy the evening very much. I think UR Sustainability Club will organize another tour like this one, later this semester.

Half of the group saw “Elysium” [7/10] a futuristic movie about a man dying to get to a satellite habitat where magical medical technology can heal nearly anything. The other went to the World’s End, or something like that. They seemed shocked by what they saw. The movie I saw was alright, but probably won’t watch it again.

Groceries Gone

Lakeshore Sobeys map
The people in the green circle are entering a Food Desert in September, as Sobeys is opting to close the Lakeshore store on 23rd Ave. There will be no grocery store within walking distance for thousands of people. Bus service, limited as it is, is highlighted for the region.

I’ve heard that a developer involved in creating a large down town tower recently now wants to develop the Lakeshore site, and my hunch is a grocery store on the lot doesn’t fit into their plans so they priced a willing Sobeys out of it. Sobeys wants big stores, not small old IGA sites, I’m certain. I’d like to see a tower go up, but the main floor should be a grocery store. I was in such a mall in waterfront Toronto not too many years ago. It was probably a Loblaws, but I can’t remember. Somewhere near Queens Quay if I recall.

If a grocery store isn’t opened quickly on campus, or on the existing site, it will be a disaster for the Hillsdale neighbourhood people who need to walk or bike to get their food. Many may be comfortable with the change because they are driving right now, but what happens to them if they are no longer able to afford to drive? Walking down Hillsdale St. got even harder as bus service was removed for most of it, and one side lacks a sidewalk as it’s a pedestrian wasteland of solid fences on both sides of the street for half a kilometer. Neighbourhoods on either side are walled in by houses and fences.