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?

Will Mandryk Eat His Privatization Crow?

Has anyone watched Mandryk eat crow about this doozy of a column defending Wall’s last campaign yet?
“On Tuesday, Wall emphatically said “no” to selling SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SaskTel, SGI and even STC. He reminded voters he signed the old NDP Crown Corporation Protection Act and noted his only proposed change to that law is on the sale of liquor stores.
Yet there was Broten, becoming the fourth straight NDP leader telling us of their opponent’s hidden agenda to sell off all Crown corporations, including SaskTel, SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SGI, STC, etc.”
“Broten has a smoking gun. Don’t let it get around, but … pssst …. Saskatchewan is running a deficit.
 
“He’s not talking about his plans for privatization, but we know, in his desire to go after quick, one-time money … anything is on the table for him.” Broten said.
 
Well, there you have it. What more proof could anyone possibly need? Wall and the Sask. Party intend to commit political suicide by first being forthright about selling liquor stores, then lying to the voters about selling off everything else.
 
So why does the NDP keep doing this?
There is the sentimentality.”
Ugh. He even mocked the smoking gun(s). Maybe he’s just sentimental about beating up on the NDP when they don’t even deserve it, instead of when they do.
This May, Wall closed STC, and changed the law in order to sell off half of SaskTel, SGI, SaskEnergy, etc. for a quick buck and to destroy public services in the hope that the private sector offers them instead. STC has been shut for weeks now, and Greyhound has expressed an interest in NOT operating buses on profitable bus routes in Saskatchewan. We went from having the best inter-city bus line in Canada, to NO bus service between the province’s largest cities of over a half million people collectively.
Mandryk’s column defending the Premier’s campaign deception, when he should have known better, helped make this possible.
Mar 18, 2016 11:24am
 
Media: ‘Why won’t both parties stop talking privatization?’
3rd party: ‘Change Crowns to public-owned co-operatives.’
Media: *silence* then ‘Why won’t the NDP stop talking about Crowns?’

Wall Built A Saskatchewan You Can’t Easily Leave

Saskatchewan Blogger Tammy Robert wrote about the bad governance of Brad Wall.

So Brad Wall had his Finance Minister write about the character of Tammy Robert.

Meanwhile, Wall’s Government has brought about a very justified human rights complaint by a Cree woman who wants to save the lives of people she hasn’t even met. That’s what the Premier should want to do, but clearly he’s more preoccupied with what’s written about him in Macleans.

3 years ago, a week before I died (temporarily), Regina City Council made illegal the Sask Party’s solution to STC’s closure. You can’t even thumb a ride to get away from Regina if you’re stuck here. WALL: That spells prosperity. Regina has a Wall, and you can’t walk, hop a train, or take a bus to get around it.

 

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/

Weak Transportation Week

Sent to a Saskatchewan Government employee who announced Saskatchewan Transportation Week immediately after STC bus and parcel services were closed to be sold off much later:

Dear Brandy Leippi:

Reading your press release citing the proclamation of this week as Saskatchewan Transportation Week, I was struck by how contradictory the Government’s messaging is in juxtaposition to reality.
http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2017/june/01/transportation-week
“this week is about recognizing the thousands of people who make it happen.””
Hundreds were laid off on Thursday at STC.

““Investing in priority areas like transportation infrastructure is a major part of our government’s plan to ensure the economy remains strong,” Marit said.”
Failing to invest in rural and inter-city bus service will have the opposite effect, obviously.

““An efficient transportation network is the key foundation of a strong economy; nothing moves until the roads are built.”
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/highway-near-cumberland-house-called-saskatchewan-s-worst-1.1307838
4 years later:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/highway-123-cumberland-house-sask-1.4132668

“Since 2008, the Government of Saskatchewan has invested $7.4 billion in transportation infrastructure, improving more than 12,000 km of Saskatchewan highways.”
And has in that time also removed transportation options for people who don’t own a private car or cannot or will not drive for a variety of reasons.

If you’d like to turn this very obvious slide around, please help restore STC bus services at the very least until private sector replacements are in place. Investing in public EV charging infrastructure along major highway routes is probably a constructive means to work with Ottawa on improving Saskatchewan’s infrastructure, too.

Thank-you for your time.
Sincerely,
John Klein
Regina, SK

CC my MLA

The Sask Heavy Con comments in the press release were grating too. That association has been fighting the carbon tax with the Premier, instead of finding cost-saving ways to reduce their emissions, or lobby for ‘carrots’ to modernize their equipment as opposed to the carbon tax ‘stick’.

The Saskatchewan Government and SaskParty are really this obtuse.

Transportation Not Meeting Demand

It’s been kind of a bad year for transportation in Saskatchewan. Aside from the potential Supercharger for Swift Current, there haven’t been many tangible bright spots for Saskatchewan.

  • Premier Wall rejects the carbon tax plan to reduce emissions
  • SGI says they’re not considering a rebate on Zero Emission Vehicles, as they once had 5 years ago until Minister McMillian of SGI (now President McMillian of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Procurers) cancelled the rebate. Gee, no bad optics there, right? Just an oil industry lobbyist directly encouraging people to buy trucks over EV or hybrid vehicles.
  • The SaskParty closed and sold off the STC Crown, with no replacement for bus service apparently in mind. As a result, there’s no bus service between Saskatoon and Regina! I emailed a company reported in the news as seeking to offer service, and they replied:

    We have not been approved for scheduled passenger service yet

    Sincerely
    Mitch Blyth
    General Manager
    Carpe Diem Group featuring our new Land Jet mobile office division.
    Regina, Saskatoon & Yorkton Sk.
    []531-9626

  • Cumberland House still doesn’t have sufficient transportation to/from it.
  • Via Rail offered unlimited $150 passes and travel in July to youth under 25, then only to 1867 youth, then several thousand, but stopped before demand was satisfied, and failed to offer the pass for additional months, or add additional train service to meet the obvious demand. Saskatchewan only has Via service to 2 cities, Saskatoon and Melville. Regina, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current are left out even though they are on the Trans-Canada as is Calgary in Alberta.

Considering I was hoping a passenger rail line between Saskatoon and Regina could one day be built, it’s especially appalling that the government has ended bus service between the major cities this year.

So what can one person do? I attended the large rally at STC headquarters in March. I’ve pushed on City Council several times encouraging them to have Regina Transit buy STC resources and operate it on profitable routes as a money maker for the City, while providing a valuable service the province has abdicated itself from.

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.”