VIA Train from Melville to Winnipeg

VIA is advertising a $15 child fare. That’s for kids under 12 years of age.

Still, it’s $516.60 to go to Winnipeg for four days with the family of four, from Melville, SK (the closest train station to Regina). We’d have to rent or borrow a car to get there. They promise nothing regarding the departure time (or the arrival time).

I’d have to leave on days the train goes through, not days desired by work schedules.

Renting a car to go from Regina to Winnipeg can cost as little as $17/day, plus gas. Obviously the hour long drive to Melville would be better directed to Winnipeg which is only 5 hours away, and people skip the train option altogether.

It’s remained disappointing that the Liberal government has done nothing to make train travel less of a joke in our country. Now, we can’t even take a bus to Winnipeg.

WestJet flights for the same days as the VIA trip outlined above are $2,348.84. That includes: Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC) $57.00 & an Airport Improvement Fee (AIF) of $180.00. Selecting a seat sale in September, that can be as low as $1,122.44.

 

#SaveSTC: Does Saskatchewan Have a Developed Economy Still?

The gov’t was totally negligent, not even doing as much to ensure people could get to their medical appointments as some guy in Regina could do with less than an hour of effort. If they had, they might have realized Greyhound was considering closure, & STC would corner market. And Hargrave and Carr have remained recklessly partisan and heartless as Saskatchewan people and cross-Canada travelers alike are left without mainstream inter-city/province/country bus service. It leaves people questioning if we’re even a developed economy anymore.

If you’re driving across Canada, and your car breaks down in Regina, you can’t leave it by train, bus, or by hitchhiking (not legally). The government only just barely authorized ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.

The train station is a casino only, the bus depot is a cop shop & vacant building, and the airport can’t be reached by bus/bike/walking. There are plenty of friendly and sympathetic people who’ll give you a ride if you ask, but for some demographics that’s too dangerous to contemplate.

JFK Airport Experience

“Saskboy doesn’t recommend John F. Kennedy International Airport.” Here’s the summary I left for them on Facebook:

They weren’t able to let us deplane for an hour due to a thunderstorm when we arrived.
New York
New York

We departed late, in part because there was another plane at our gate for longer than expected, so hard to know where the fault was there.

The things they could directly fix:
-There are NO BENCHES or chairs (aside from about 6 at the accessibility wicket) in Terminal 4 before you enter a secure area.
-The disposable cutlery in restaurants could be biodegradable.
-Alcohol prices in the restaurant was $11US and up, which is exorbitant.

One thing that was alright was the Air Train, except it’s not clear to a traveler that you’ll be paying $5 for using it, until you’re already on it. It would be nice if the MTA card options were made more clear, but the experience was helped by a retailer near the exit of the Airtrain who explained the unlimited 7 day MTA pass ($33), and reloadable $5 MTA Airtrain card were the best options for our trip.

Once we were on the subway car at Jamaica Station, we were using the map on the wall to figure out where our next transfer was going to be, and where we’d be getting off. We hauled our bags up some stairs, and found our AirBNB about a block away. There was no elevator, as we knew, so we climbed the old stairs, and then headed out to find a place to have supper. The waiter was a jovial and helpful fellow named Justin, and we had an excellent meal with some complimentary ‘slaw too. I enjoyed a bourbon barrel flavoured ale, and we made a point to come back the next evening after supper elsewhere, for a nightcap.
New York

Busless

Saskatchewan used to bustle, but soon it will be busless. It would literally rather provide mobility to tarsands than people.

https://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/i-dont-like-the-sound-of-it-one-bit-sask-riders-react-to-end-of-greyhound-in-province/

https://thestarphoenix.com/business/we-simply-cant-leave-people-stranded-by-the-road-alberta-expands-rural-bus-service-pilot-project/

“The announcement came 14 months after the Saskatchewan government shut down the money-losing Saskatchewan Transportation Co.”

That’s a bad perspective Star Phoenix. There is no expectation to make profit on public services. You wouldn’t say, “Shut down the money-losing Plains Hospital”, for example.

 

“Since Greyhound made their announcement, we simply can’t leave people stranded by the road,” Notley said in Medicine Hat on Wednesday.

“Rural Albertans, and rural Alberta communities, make an enormous contribution to our province and we owe it to them to protect the transportation options that they have.”

Went to Winnipeg

I went to Winnipeg on the weekend. A car rental was less than $70 for 4 days. While there I witnessed a U-Haul van driver gently crash into the car in front of him after I had waved him into the flow of traffic in my lane. I guess if I hadn’t waved him in, he’d have hit me instead.

I also got sick with a cold, and couldn’t do half of the things I wanted to see while there.

A Tale About Buying an Electric Car

There’s no place to buy a used Electric Vehicle in Regina, in 2017. This is a problem. It’s one I don’t have the ability to solve, but it affects me because I’m interested in helping people know how to get an electric car if they live in southern Saskatchewan.

There was a site my friend had directed me to, and it had less selection and higher prices than I was looking for. I started looking earlier this year, and the prices on Auto Trader, although better, were still a few too many thousands of dollars out of my price range. I put the project on hold until the new Nissan Leaf was set to be announced in early September. After patiently dealing with a sluggish salesperson for a couple days in Port Moody over phone-tag, I found a 2014 Leaf SV in Vancouver for $16000, with the features I was looking for, and put a $500 down payment on it easily by credit card. Then, the real difficulties began…

I bank with several different banks. The one with the money for the car is not a Big 5, but it’s owned by the Big 5. They don’t have a SWIFT code, which is apparently required to send money by wire transfer. It would have been at least 2 days to move the money to another bank, and $50 to wire it, or $10 to buy a bank draft and courier it to me. I chose the latter, and Purolator didn’t successfully leave me a notice of the delivery. I phoned the bank 3 days later asking what was going on, and they said it was already in Regina. The following morning I went to pick it up, and courier it to the auto dealer in Vancouver. That evening, I got word that my Dad had passed away.

The following week, I got a paper to sign and send back, which I did electronically, and was soon told the car would ship and be in Regina at Regina Honda by “mid-week”. When Wednesday rolled around, and I didn’t get a phone call, I got in touch with the sales person (who was the 2nd I dealt with, as the first one left employment at the Vancouver dealer in the meantime). They noted the car hadn’t been picked up by the shipping company yet! They got a new promise of 7-10 days from the following day when it would be picked up, he assured me. I suggested a partial refund of $200 may be in order. He and his manager were not eager to make such a deal.

Day 10 was about to roll around, so I called to get some facts, and they said it was set to be delivered on Monday. I was hoping for the Friday, but close enough. On Monday, no phone call arrived. I called the Regina Dealer, to check it hadn’t been dropped off, and it hadn’t. The Vancouver sales person emailed the shipping company and asked them to contact me with what happened. They suggested that they hoped it would be in Regina a week later!

I was not pleased. I suggested that was unacceptable. My salesperson agreed, and also demanded better of the shipping company Car-Fre’.

3 and a half weeks waiting for it to arrive was too long. The dealer/shipper missed 2 self-imposed delivery dates. The Port Moody dealer finally admitted they were taking too long, and promised a $500 refund of the $1000 to ship it, which I happily accepted.

It arrived October 19, 2017, at Regina Honda on Broad St. The truck operator unloaded it, it was conveniently placed at the back of the semi trailer. I went to Galon Insurance down the street, they collected the PST, the conditional 28 day registration, gave me a plate, and I bought an AutoPak from SMI, it was about $40 less than SGI’s. I didn’t have a wrench with me to get the new plate on, so a salesperson at Regina Honda helped me out. As we walked to the vehicle, they asked why we didn’t buy directly from them, “You don’t sell it, unfortunately.”

I got back to work, and parking was temporarily free in the lot I picked, BONUS! It should be free-ish for EVs anyway, at this point in Regina’s history, at least until they become much more common.

I’d hoped to be able to offer a template to others so they could copy my experience, but it’s better if they don’t. While the Port Moody Honda dealer eventually made things better with the partial shipping refund, they weren’t really keen on shipping out of province, and only do it a few times a year.

The shipping company dropped the ball completely. They only came through at the end because an auto-dealer lit a fire under their butts. Their latest review on Yellowpages was from another unhappy customer. If your expectation is that it’ll arrive sometime long after promised, they’re good enough. If you want it the same month, try another method.

If you’ve enough money for a new car, a more immediate method of getting an EV to Regina would be to buy one at Evergreen Nissan in Prince Albert. It’s 400km away though, so you’ll still need to ship it, or take a full day or two to drive it down to Regina. Maybe Regina Nissan will catch on, or be dragged into the future not too long from me writing this.

UPDATE: The PST and shipping refunds arrived at the end of October by mail.