The Saskatchewan Transport Company (STC) is designated an essential public service in Saskatchewan for many reasons. Public transportation has been shown to be crucial in serving and maintaining areas of low population density and remote, hard-to-travel-to communities. Saskatchewan people and services are connected through public transport, enabling rural and small town people to enjoy similar amenities to their urban neighbours. The STC has given many people, who would otherwise be without means, a safe, affordable, and environmentally-friendly way to move around their province. The government of Saskatchewan issued a rash decision in privatizing STC – and their lack of planning around this is becoming more apparent daily.
Although the government scheduled STC passenger service to be shuttered on May 31 2017, there was nothing organized to take its place. Effectively, this abandons many Saskatchewan residents, without other options, by the side of the road.
A few private businesses have applied to take on certain STC routes. Clearly, the profitable ones, Saskatoon or Regina, will get more take-up; rural residents and northerners, however, may get left in the cold.
Individuals concerned with safety and the take-over of STC routes have initiated Notices of Opposition with the Highway Traffic Board – the government body that oversees and regulates safety and highway passenger travel in Saskatchewan. The hearings to deal with objections are set for June 5th and 6th in Regina and June 14th in Saskatoon. After the hearings, the HTB will have to decide who is granted a revised or new operating license to carry passengers. This will take some time again.
Save STC spokesperson, JoAnn Jaffe asks, “Meanwhile who will be transporting Saskatchewan citizens? How has this been planned and orchestrated? Has the government completely abandoned its citizens in its efforts to serve private interests?” The group is encouraging people to continue writing letters to Minister Hargrave and Premier Wall. Save STC says the government should be conducting a value for money audit. This audit would look at the balance of social, environmental, and economic benefits and costs of STC to the province, before ‘winding down’ the service.
The provincial auditor is empowered to make these audits, and requests can be made at: https://auditor.sk.ca/citizen-requests.