There is a transportation crisis in Saskatchewan. Until May 31 we had Saskatchewan Transportation Company that was, by all accounts, one of the best bus passenger services in Canada. In Wall’s rush to privatize STC he didn’t allow enough time for a responsible “wind-down” or to learn about the consequences of the cut, and now we have a crisis:
- People are being air-evacuated for medical reasons to urban centres and find themselves without return transportation;
- Seniors and disabled people are left in rural and remote locations without public transit; and
- People are hitchhiking everywhere or privately paying friends to drive them.
A Saskatchewan human rights complaint suggests this may cause death to Indigenous women.
When people call Wall’s office his administration has the audacity to suggest Stop the Cuts is responsible.
According to Stop the Cuts, this isn’t true, not by a long shot. As per provisions in the Highway Traffic Act, objections were filed by private citizens, as per the designated procedure to get running rights—this is the democratic right of citizens and is prescribed in the Act itself.
Wall should know the Act and he should have included procedures for shutting down STC that allowed time to privatize the bus service without depriving many Saskatchewanians of their ability to move around the province. They managed to plan ahead with the privatization of the liquor stores so people wouldn’t be deprived of their booze, after all.
Important to the citizens of Saskatchewan and the HTB hearings to date is that out of the 9 companies or so that have applied for operating authorities, 4 filed for limousine or charter service. 4 more applied for one route each and one other applied for 5 routes.
Martin Wooldridge, one of the objectors, notes that “None of the applications cover small towns. In total, perhaps 7 routes will be covered (out of 252 run by STC) if all of the current applications are approved and Saskatoon will only be connected to Regina and Alsask. There’s been no-one asking for routes north of Saskatoon and none offer transportation to disabled people.”
Cindy Hanson another objector stated, “Many objectors are now asking for is a public inquiry – something the HTB has the mandate to provide. The HTB is tasked with providing a transportation system that is safe, affordable and accessible – it will be very hard for them to do this on the basis of applications made thus far, and following on the record of STC.”
The Highway Traffic Board has not yet decided on any applications made through the hearing process.
For more information call Martin Wooldridge at 306-771-4669 or JoAnn Jaffe at (306) 652-6309 or 306-220-6078.