Hawaiian Luau and Other Fun

Hawaii

Chief's Luau Hawaii

My camera broke:
Chief's Luau

Chief's Luau Hawaii

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Don’t Do That

The pompous Saskatchewan Minister of Bad Ideas, serving under the skillfully bad leadership of Premier Brad Wall, has asked people who’ve lost bus service, to just stop hitchhiking, because he doesn’t like to see it.

“People have always hitchhiked, and we don’t like to see that and hopefully they’ll stop doing that,” said Hargrave.

Next he may suggest, if it wouldn’t be a bother, could they crawl into a hole and die somewhere out of sight too?

The Core Of the Problem Is Austerity

In the Saskatchewan Legislature Thursday, Premier Brad Wall says a decision to stop STC bus service and lay-off 250 people did not come easy.

Wall says the decision was difficult but ridership had declined significantly.

“As ridership declines and the costs increase, that per-passenger subsidy is well up over 90-dollars,” said Premier Brad Wall. “Almost 100-dollars per passenger, Mr. Speaker. And at some point you have to ask the question; is that the core function of government? To subsidize to 90-dollars per passenger for the bus company?”

STC’s the very definition of a “sustainable core service“! It costs less than a municipal transit service!

@PremierBradWall March 22, 2017:
#skbudget outlines a 3yr plan to balance: controlled spending, sustainable core services, less reliance on resource rev & keep econ strong.

==

There is presently no replacement bus service as the Minister indicated there would be. People are being stranded daily now, in Saskatoon and Regina even, unable to directly get to the other city without desperately going through Winnipeg, hitchhiking (illegally in Regina) or flying on expensive airline tickets.

Today, and last week, Greyhound’s website indicates “no service available” between Regina and Saskatoon! I’ve been in contact with Greyhound perhaps more than the incompetent Saskatchewan Government, to try and fix this problem.

There are companies other than Greyhound applying to operate in Saskatchewan, but the government has dragged on with deciding, until after the deadline arbitrarily set for STC’s privatization closure and subsequent sell off.

“The province is confident many of the routes that STC covered will be taken over by other privately owned companies.
Minister Responsible Joe Hargrave says they have already received an offer from a major bus company to take over some routes that will be cancelled when STC is done and Saskatchewan is the only province that still operates a bus company like STC.”

The Highway Traffic Board is supposed to be independent but……
“The HTB is, according to its website, a “completely independent body” that consists of members appointed by the Sask. Party government.
Its chair, Bill Missal, is a long-time Saskatchewan Party supporter who has, according to Elections Saskatchewan, donated to the Sask. Party.
He has also worked with Sask. Party MLA and former Highways Minister Don McMorris at election time.”

You might also like:
https://saskboy.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/weak-transportation-week/
https://saskboy.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/transportation-not-meeting-demand/
https://saskboy.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/stc-bus-shut-down-by-callous-saskparty/

STC Bus Shut Down By Callous SaskParty

Today is a terrible day in Saskatchewan history. The Brad Wall government has ended public transportation to most Saskatchewan communities. There is tomorrow no bus service between Saskatoon and Regina, a sort of event you’d expect after a major natural disaster, not an incompetent government decision poised to directly harm thousands of people, and inconvenience tens of thousands more.

Cody, who served as the minister overseeing STC back in 1978, argues the decision to shut the bus service down was philosophical, not economical.

“There’s no such thing as a profitable transportation system,” he said. “It simply isn’t there. They tell us you can’t afford $15 million or so over the next five years. If that’s the case, then why would you sell SaskTel, which makes $130 million? There’s a philosophy here and I don’t think it really has anything to do with the money.”

Still More Hawaiian Sights

Pearl Harbor

The 3rd day of driving, we headed toward the old Dole Plantation. After climbing a hill on the freeway, the Leaf’s battery was a little depleted especially since we started off at 66% since we couldn’t charge it overnight. We aimed for a free charger at a decidedly not-free health care clinic.

There was a huge solar array covered car-park behind it, and we circled the building only to finally find an EV charger that was either out of service, or not compatible with our EV. After learning from the support number on it that the troubleshooting steps I’d taken weren’t sufficient, we popped over to Tony Nissan to charge up. There were 3 Leafs there already, and only 2 chargers. One soon left after a couple minutes, and another Leaf rolled up with no miles remaining on the guessometer. I let him charge first, and we talked about his vehicle so I could learn more about owning an EV. The CHAdeMO charger at Tony had been broken for some time, and I overheard it wasn’t being repaired for months longer. That seemed totally unacceptable to me, but that’s what Nissan corporate in the USA wanted to do. Tony had shelled out $9000 already once to fix the cord on the charger, but it’d broken in some way again. I think there’s probably a design flaw, and some sort of replacement unit going in their place in the next few months.

We got our time on the charger, and rolled back down the hill and over to the other half of Pearl Ridge Mall that we had skipped the day before. This time we rode the Monorail over to the side with the giant Cook map on the floor, where we’d charged the car after the Tesla vacated the charging spot I waited 40 minutes for. We had to check all of the chargers before finding an available one. Another Leaf, and a BMW i3 were on the upper parkade chargers.

While charging, we had lunch, and shopped around a bit for jewelry and such. I popped out to see how the car was doing, and a young woman was charging her Leaf instead. Curious, I asked what was up, and she had to be across the island for a deadline of some sort, and apologized for interrupting my charging. I said it was okay, and to just plug me back in when she had enough for her destination.

Pearl Harbor

Then we went over to Pearl Harbor as it was closing, parked nearby, took some photos, parked again, took more photos, and got out of the lot just before they locked it up for the night.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

We drove past an unfinished freeway hanging over us in the air, and through Honolulu killing time exploring while on our way to return the Leaf to Autoland.
Pearl Harbor

electric tree
An electric Leaf definitely needs an electric tree!

We enjoyed the sunset at the coast in a park, with some cats, newly married couples, and a few homeless people in tents.
cat fed in Kaka'ako park

wedding in park

More Sights In Hawaii

After a couple nights at the first place we stayed, we dropped off our keys and picked up the ones for the next place. The timeshare employees moved our bags for us once the rooms were cleaned, which was convenient.

Army museum closed for President's Day weekend

On Monday, President’s Day, we hopped on the bus to the other side of Honolulu, and picked up our rental car, an electric Nissan Leaf. After getting a quick tour of the car, (but not one where we retained that there was a USB port available to charge our phones), we took off into the distance not entirely sure where to go. I reasoned we should set a free car charger as our next stop, so we picked one east of Waikiki on the Plugshare app on my phone, and set the phone’s GPS to navigate us to it. When we were almost there, we pulled over into a large free parking lot to take a quick look and stretch.
A few minutes later we pulled into a busy parking lot, and immediately spotted the free Volta-branded EV charger, and the parking spot was available narrowly. I squeezed in beside a pickup, and we plugged in.
Hawaii

With up to 2 hours to kill, we wandered off to find lunch. There was an Italian place, and we got a window table by the boat docks.
Hawaii
I tried calamari steak for the first time, and it was good, but there was a lot of it. American sized meal portions remain a bit of a problem even for a bottomless pit like myself.

The car was fully charged again when we returned to it, after charging our phones in a mall hallway outlet. We set off for the next charger. We stopped along the way at the rocky ocean side where there was a free parking spot with lots of tourists doing the same.
Hawaii
Leaf parked

The Target we ended up at had chickens and roosters wandering around the parking lot. The EV charger was busy though, so we explored the town more after taking a wrong turn once and having to go in a circle.

We found the grocery store charger was busy too, but another pair of chargers (one working and occupied) provided us with some free juice after only a 30 minute shopping wait. We walked over to another mall nearby, and there was a nice sitting area with an outdoor phone charging stand. One of the haggard parents we saw there with a little girl, we ran into later on the Luau bus trip we took on Thursday.

On our way back to Waikiki, there was a charger near a McDonalds, but it only worked for 5 minutes without a payment option. So we drove back, parked, and went to supper at Cheeseburger in Paradise. Delicious, and you really pay for the location.

Cheeseburger in Paradise

golf course
The golf course visible from our condo’s balcony.

sunset
The next day’s sunset after a bit of shopping at Pearl Ridge, I found the beach to be a bit too well used.
sunset

sunset
For an unused beach, the parking security across the street was annoying given that their parking lot was empty and their suggestion was to park only 40m away on the dirt. I ended up finding a better spot adjacent to the beach, after a U-turn on the non-busy street.

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.